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The City of Portland, Oregon

Fire & Rescue

Always Ready, Always There

Phone: 503-823-3700

Fax: 503-823-3710

55 SW Ash Street, Portland, OR 97204

More Contact Info

Falls Prevention

Falls Prevention
1.      Stay away from open windows.

Windows opened as little a 5 inches pose a danger to children under age 10.  Screens are made to keep bugs out, but are not strong enough to keep children in.  
Window guards are available to prevent children from falling.  Window guards should not be used on windows that are to be used as a fire exit, unless they are equipped with a quick release mechanism that can be opened easily from the inside.

Chairs and other furniture should be moved away from windows to discourage children from climbing.  Open balconies, fire escapes, and high porches are not safe play areas.  

2.      Avoid playing on stairs and escalators.

Hold the hand railings when on stairs or escalators – this will prevent pushing and shoving which could lead to someone falling and getting hurt.  Keep stairs clear of toys and other items that could cause someone to trip.  Tie your shoelaces to avoid tripping over them.

3.      Learn and practice safe play rules.

Playgrounds are designed for fun.  Many injuries can be prevented by following basic safety rules.


  • Take turns on the equipment.  When many people want to do something at the same time, it is easy for them to trip over one another.
  • Never wear sandals or go barefoot in the playground area.  Make sure shoelaces are tied – they could get caught on equipment or you could trip over them.
  • Never wear jackets with drawstrings around the neck, because they can catch on playground equipment.
  • Do not run or play games near playground equipment.
  • Tell a grown-up if playground equipment does not look safe (that is, if a swing chain is broken, if climbing bars are loose or broken, if steps are broken on the slide, and so forth).
  • Be on the lookout for rough edges, splinters, or nails on playground equipment.
  • Use playground equipment properly.


  • Always swing sitting down
  • Only one person should be on each swing.
  • Be careful around swings.  Watch where you are going.  Walk far behind a swing with someone on it, never in front.


  • Wait your turn.  When the person in front of you has slid all the way to the bottom and gotten off, then you can go.
  • Don’t stand up at the top of the slide.
  • Slide sitting down, feet first.  Sliding on your feet, knees, stomach, or headfirst is dangerous. 

Climbing Structures:

  • This type of equipment should be used for climbing, not acrobatics.  Make sure your feet are always underneath you and firmly placed on the bars.


  • Only one person should sit at each end.  Both should dismount at the same time.

4.      Play on “soft” play surfaces.

Playground surfaces should be covered with at least 12 inches of shredded mulch, wood chips, pea gravel, or rubber material specially designed for use under playground equipment.  Dirt, grass, and sand surfaces do not provide adequate cushioning in case of a fall. 
Know the Facts:   
Unintentional falls are the leading cause of nonfatal injuries resulting in emergency room visits for all ages.  Children can fall from playground equipment, windows, stairs, and other places.  Each year, approximately 130 children ages 14 and under die from falls and more than three million are treated in emergency rooms.  Source: National SAFE KIDS Campaign

Injury data show clearly that public playground equipment continues to be a major cause of injury and death for children in the United States.  The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that nearly 150,000 children under the age of 15 are treated in hospital emergency rooms annually for injuries related to public playground equipment.  Further, the CPSC estimates that at least 15 deaths related to playground equipment occur each year.  Falls, usually to the ground surface below the equipment, account for approximately 75 percent of all playground related injuries.  Source: Consumer Federation of America/Consumer product safety commission