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14 Most Common Terms for Playground Equipment


Playground Equipment Safety TermsAge Separation

When a playground is designed for multiple age groups, the playground should be divided into areas for the specific age groups with clear markings so children are contained to the appropriate area for their age.

Composite Structure

Two or more structures that are connected or linked to create one large play unit that provides multiple activities.

Designated Play Surface

An elevated surface for standing, climbing, walking, crawling, or sitting; or a flat surface greater than 2” wide by 2” long with an angle less than 30 degrees from horizontal.

Exit Region

The area at the bottom of the slides to provide children with a safe and level exit, maintaining their balance. Different age groups have different Exit Region requirements. One consistent requirement is that the edges must be rounded or curved to prevent lacerations.



Occurs when the child's clothes or something around the child's neck becomes caught or wound up on a piece of playground equipment.


Any instance in which the body or a body part cannot be withdrawn from an opening.

Fall Height

The distance between the protective surfacing and the highest designated play surface of a piece of equipment.

Safety Zone/Use Zone/Fall Zone

Areas around the equipment designated for safe movement around the equipment. Also the surface under and around equipment that a child would be expected to land if falling or exiting from the equipment.


Playground Acronyms


The American Society for Testing and Materials is an international standards organization that provides the high quality standards that playground equipment must meet.


The Consumer Products Safety Commission is an independent agency of the United States government that regulates the sale and manufacture of products, ensuring that products, like playground equipment, are safe for consumers.


The International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association. Provides 3rd part Product Certification services for U.S. And Canadian public play equipment and surfacing materials.

Age Classifications

Toddler Age Children

Refers to children 6 months through 23 months old. Equipment for this age group includes crawl tunnels and small slides. Ground level activities work best!

Pre-School Age Children

Refers to children ages 2 years to 5 years old. Equipment best suited for this age group includes sandboxes, small slides, spring riders, talk tubes, and decks that are 4 feet for less.

School Age Children

Refers to children ages 5 years to 12 years old. Equipment best suited for this age group includes chain climbers, ropes, swings, slides, horizontal bars, spinners, and sliding poles.