What Parents Should Know About Entanglement Injuries on Playgrounds

children swinging on playground

Playtime should be a fun experience for both children and adults, allowing kids to learn social skills and get much-needed exercise. Unfortunately, a simple recess can quickly turn into a nightmare if a child becomes entangled in play equipment. These accidents are all too common, and can cause lifelong trauma and disfigurement.

Types of Entanglement Injuries Children May Suffer in Play Areas

Entanglement involves the child becoming caught or entwined on a piece of playground equipment. The injury usually occurs as the child attempts to free himself, or from the force of gravity pulling on them when they cannot break free.

Strangulation by entanglement is the most deadly of all playground injuries. If a child is wearing a scarf, hooded sweatshirt with drawstrings, or caught in a gap that places pressure on the neck, asphyxiation can occur in a matter of minutes.

Children who are caught on play equipment could also suffer:

  • Eye injuries. Rotten wood or broken concrete can expose the ends of rebar and large bolts. If these remain unprotected, they can cause deep puncture wounds, poke a child’s eye out, or result in lifelong brain injury.
  • Hair entanglement. A child whose hair is tangled in an S-hook or chain may attempt to pull herself free, tearing out both hair and the skin beneath it. These wounds may require shaving part or all of the head, surgery to repair the damage, and a permanent scar or bald spot on the scalp.
  • Amputations. Even the tiniest cracks and gaps pose a danger. Bolt holes, pinch points, knot holes, and chain links can all grab an inquisitive child’s fingers or toes. If the child attempts to free himself, part or all of the digit may be lost.

Who Is Responsible for a Child’s Playground Injury?

The owners and operators of play areas have a duty to make sure that children are as safe as possible when playing on the property. This includes designing play areas to minimize accident risks, following minimum spacing guidelines when erecting play equipment, and identifying any defects that could cause injury and correcting them as soon as possible. In most cases, proper equipment maintenance or adequate supervision during playtime could have prevented a child’s injuries.

Some of the biggest hazards on playgrounds include:

  • Projections and protrusions. Any protrusion—including bolts, pegs, nails, hooks, or sheet metal—that extend beyond three millimeters can be deadly to a child. Over time, these exposed metal components may bend, break, or rust, further complicating an injury.
  • Connection points. The spaces between the hooks and chains on a swing set can catch a child’s hair or clothing, while broken welds and exposed bolt holes may be just big enough to poke a finger through.
  • Ropes and nets. Climbing components such as netting, rope, rock walls, and monkey bars on playgrounds combine the risks of entanglement with the high impact from a fall.
  • Gaps and railings. Play structures offer an opportunity for children to run, climb, and develop problem-solving skills, but children are not always careful when scrambling around or through them. A child may attempt to squeeze through a small space (like a gap between steps, ladder rungs, or the slats of a railing) and trap part or all of their bodies. As a child’s body is compressed, blood flow is cut off to the affected area, potentially causing compartment syndrome or organ damage. Playground operators should ensure that there are no spaces in equipment or gaps between platforms larger than nine inches across.

If your child was injured on a playground in Tennessee, your family should not have to bear the medical costs and emotional damage alone. Our lawyers provide injury clients with a free initial consultation and represent their interests on a contingent fee basis, meaning we do not collect anything unless we secure a recovery for you. To learn more about your claim, download a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.