Safety zones & depths

Roughly 550-600 kids a day end up in emergency rooms from playground injuries, with 79% of them from falls, which account for 90% of the most serious injuries, so picking the right safety surfacing is crucial. It's also important to understand the current Standards for playground safety surfacing fall height protection that exist are definitely NOT safe! Many of the playground equipment manufacturers have a vested interest in ignoring the facts related to such standards, as they populate many of the advisory and management boards, and appear to be motivated more by money and profits over the safety of children on playgrounds. 


That being stated and established beyond any reasonable doubt, it's all the more important to look at the actual safety guidelines for different types of Playground equipment, as well as Comparing safety surface options. Allowing for the proper safety zone(s) around each piece of equipment is as crucial as selecting the best fall safety surfacing and proper depth. 


It's also equally important that all play areas are age appropriate, possibly creating two separate from each other within a public park playground. One designed for children 6 or older, and another for those 5 and under.

Different types of playground equipment have different safety zone areas, due to the nature of their intended use, and we've got a few of them represented below. Click on any of the green icons or text beneath them for a new page dedicated to that topic. Likewise for the text beneath each of the photo-based information (infoto) graphics, which are more easily viewed at full size when you click on them. 


Generally, playground safety zones are at least six feet from any playground equipment, these safety zones can overlap for non-moving apparatus, and cannot for those involving movement. Swings and slides require a larger area for a safety zone due to how they move a child during playtime.

Equally as important for fall safety is properly maintaining the playground surface as recommended to the proper depth required, as well as inspecting it regularly to see if any leveling or topping off is needed, and if raking or churning might be a good idea to provide greater consistency for the entire play area. Each type of playground safety surfacing has different installation depth & maintenance requirements and lifespan expectancy, in addition to inherent pros and cons in the form of fall height safety properties and potential hazards and/or liabilities. We have more information about this within our playground surfacing comparison page.


Choosing any playground apparatus of greater maximum elevation or a surface rated higher than the respective maximum HIC thresholds of 390, 570 and 700 is just not a wise decision, based on the widely available plethora of information available. A good example of this is our founder's story published in 2014 at the online Playground magazine website, Are Our Playgrounds (and Industry-Related Fall Safety Standards) Really Safe?, and the link takes you to the story republished at 


While on that website, you can view gif diagrams of how different safety react to provide their related impact attenuation during a fall impact, using a depiction of what has long been a standard type ot testing device, that emulates a child's head impact. These also show what happens if an impact is at an angle, in addition to a straight vertical drop. 

PIP is called the most dangerous playground surface

PIP costs & issues

Wood chips attract insect & pests

Social development

Wood chips attract slime mold that can harm plants

Playground upkeep

PIP is called the most dangerous playground surface
Wood chips attract insect & pests
Wood chips attract slime mold that can harm plants

Our rubber mulch is manufactured to the highest of standards to produce the highest quality product with the greatest benefits. It's been tested and certified as incredibly safe for fall impact injury protection with HIC scores around 700 at the maximum fall height of 17 feet for testing certification. Some other rubber mulches can only get such good test scores at fall heights of 12 feet. It's been tested and met or performed well within the requirements under ASTM F1292 (Standard Specification for Impact Attenuation of Surfacing Materials Within the Use Zone of Playground Equipment), ASTM F1951 (Standard Specification for Determination of Accessibility of Surface Systems Under and Around Playground Equipment), and ASTM F3012 (Standard Specification for Loose-Fill Rubber for Use as a Playground Safety Surface Under and Around Playground Equipment) to provide the #1 best playground fall injury safety.


The founder of this company is a former Certified Playground Safety Inspector (CPSI), nationally published author, seminar presenter, and considered one of the foremost authorities on rubber mulch that can address any questions you might have about playground safety and the benefits of using the best playground surface available from US Rubber Mulch. We can also create for our customers a playground layout drawing specifically for your location needs and play equipment, to make sure the necessary safety is incorporated well within the planning stages and followed by those facilitating the installation and maintenance. 


Being well informed in advance helps to eliminate or minimize all of those "would've," "could've" and "should've" instances and judgments after a serious playground injury, which might have been avoided by knowing what you didn't know before it happened. Become informed so you have the best opportunity to make well educated decisions about playground safety.