Report: Chatham County Playgrounds Unsafe - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

11/12/04

Report: Chatham County Playgrounds Unsafe

From a photo taken by the Keenan Kids Foundation. From a photo taken by the Keenan Kids Foundation.

When you take your kids to the playground, you want them to have fun. You don't want to worry about their safety. But a new report says Chatham County playgrounds could be more dangerous than you think.

The Keenan Kids Foundation out of Atlanta graded 16 parks in Savannah and Chatham County. They only gave pass or fail marks. According to their research, 15 out of 16 parks they visited failed on their safety report card.

On the surface, the playground at Lake Mayer looks perfectly safe. But take a closer look and you'll see paint chipping on the equipment and trash on the ground. "It's an older park, a popular park," said concerned parent Shoshannah Atwell.

Atwell says she'd like to see better and safer playgrounds for her kids to play on in Chatham County. So would the Keenan Foundation. "I think it's important for the children not to play in dangerous playgrounds," said Don Keenan.

The foundation says one of the worst playground problems was at Kings Ferry Park off Highway 17. Researchers took a picture of a twisted swing chain; it's rusted and could strangle a child who tried to play on it.

Since the Keenan Foundation visited the parks, there have already been some changes. Those rusted chains from Kings Ferry have just been replaced with brand new ones.

This playground still has some improvements to make. Kids could trip over the cable surrounding the park and the playground surface is uneven and there no padding, like woodchips, if a child falls.

"Seventy-five percent of the very serious injuries are head injuries," said Keenan. "A vast majority of them come from trip hazards and failing to have the cushion to protect the children."

Other playgrounds like the ones at Forsyth Park fared a lot better. The only problem the Keenan Foundation reported was big tree limbs hanging too close to playground equipment.

You can look up the parks the Keenan Foundation graded on its website: www.keenanskidsplaygroundsafety.com.

The foundation will follow up next year. They hope city leaders and community organizations will get together to improve the playgrounds.

Reported by: Michelle Paynter, mpaynter@wtoc.com

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