Playgrounds and their equipment are heavily regulated and must meet certain safety requirements. However, new and unexpected hazards can still arise. Last week, a 9-year old Wisconsin boy was burned when the slide he was using suddenly bubbled up and exploded according to a report by Fox News. The cause of this accident is still under investigation as slides of this type are installed in playgrounds all over the world. The slide was manufactured by Landscape Structures Inc. out of Delano, Minnesota.
A discussion was held with a local expert on playgrounds and their installation to determine how something like this could possibly have happened. The expert theorized that there could have been something inside of the plastic slide that caused it to burst, possibly hot air from sitting in the sun, which expanded inside the softened plastic or, perhaps, there was something combustible inside the plastic slide and static shock ignited it. The expert stated that hot air alone should not cause second degree burns. It was also pointed out that there are various warnings on all of the equipment manufactured by Landscape Structures Inc. which include warnings about the surfaces of the playground equipment getting hot and the need for inspection prior to use.
The local expert also explained that playground equipment needs to be maintained and a documented maintenance plan must be in place. This is the responsibility of the owner of the playground equipment. It is unclear at this time if that had any role in this accident, however. In addition, it is important for playground owners to hire Certified Playground Safety Inspectors (CPSI) which is the industry leading certification program in playground safety as certified by The National Recreation and Park Association.