Everything to Know About Playground Fencing

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 200,000 children receive emergency treatment for playground-related injuries each year in the United States. While the majority of these result from falls and equipment-related accidents, other injuries occur due to kids wandering off playgrounds unsupervised. In 2001, a two-year-old in Connecticut named Bresnan drowned in a pond eight yards from his local play area. This tragedy remains a sad reminder of why playgrounds installed near water hazards need some form of containment—as drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional death among children in the U.S.

Playground fences help protect kids and safeguard playground owners in terms of premises liability. Most state laws stipulate children cannot be expected to fully comprehend dangers where they play—therefore, property managers are responsible for taking extra measures to protect them. The jury in Connecticut agreed: hence why they awarded $2.2 million to Bresnan’s parents; the pond was in close proximity to the playground and was therefore classified as an “attractive nuisance.”

Since it’s not feasible to have someone keep watch 24/7, PalmSHIELD, the Midwest’s leading manufacturer in architectural screen fencing and wall, recommends the following safety solution: playground fencing equipped with secure gates; and we’ve tasked ourselves with creating high-quality products for this very purpose. Our playground fencing and gates are ideal for schools, daycare centers, community parks, etc.


How can a playground fence help protect children?

As mentioned above, the pond in the Connecticut tragedy was an “attractive nuisance”: an object that draws kids’ attention but has the potential to harm them. Additional examples include construction equipment, high tension towers, railroad tracks, and playthings on neighboring properties. But other—very real—threats exist when kids wander in pursuit of attractive nuisances: busy roadways, abductors, wild/stray animals, projectiles (say, a baseball thrown from the nearby park). Not to mention the possibility of losing their way back to the playground. One incident in North Carolina involved toddlers who escaped from their daycare center, crossed a dangerous four-lane highway, and fortunately were found safe—but not for 35 minutes!

Installing a fence around your playground helps contain children and keeps out harmful entities such as abductors and stray animals. A sturdy fence can also reduce incidents involving automobiles which—depending on location relative to nearby streets—you might not even suspect would be dangerous….


How can playground fencing help safeguard children from vehicles?

Never assume that jogging distance between your playground and the nearest road/parking lot means your visitors are not in danger. Cars sometimes veer off streets and keep going for several hundred yards; in other instances, kids—like the North Carolina toddlers mentioned earlier—cross busy roadways when something on the other side’s nabbed their attention.

For all of these reasons, the Environmental Rating Scales Institute recommends playground fencing for any fun zone that is within 30 feet of streets or parking lots. For playgrounds situated extremely close to roads, ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) International specifies the installation of curbs. While a curb does not guarantee vehicles won’t make contact with your fence, it has the potential to slow them down and minimize damage. ASTM International recommends curb installation at the following distances from your fence:

  • Streets with no parking: 2 feet 6 inches
  • Streets with angled parking: 4 feet
  • Streets with perpendicular parking: 5 feet

One final note regarding playground fences and roadways. Sometimes children accidentally toss their toys outside the playground and chase them into the street. But if your facility is enclosed by a protective barrier, the toys are more likely to hit the fence and stay within the playground’s perimeter—giving kids less reason to wander off.

What is the American Society for Testing and Materials’ requirements for playground fencing?

Ideal playground fences—such as the kind available from PalmSHIELD—are strong enough to keep out intruders and are specially engineered without the large gaps kids can become trapped in (i.e., trying to crawl under the fence or getting their arms stuck reaching for something between slats). ASTM’s F2049 standard for outdoor play areas stipulates the following requirements:

  • Minimum 48” height above the grade. This standard is set relative to kids age 5 and under.
  • Maximum 4” gap between grade and bottom of fence. This narrow space blocks children, large animals, and intruders from crawling under the fence. It also helps prevent toys from rolling out of the playground. (Here at PalmSHIELD, we manufacture screening with a grade-to-bottom gap of 2”.)

As mentioned above, gaps in fence panels should be small enough to avoid entrapment issues. In Georgia, for instance, the Department of Early Care and Learning specifies gaps no wider than 3.5.”

If your fence is comprised of vertical and horizontal parts and the tops of the horizontal parts are less than 45” apart, the fence needs to be installed so that the horizontal parts face outward. If your fence is comprised of vertical and horizontal parts, and the tops of the horizontal parts are more than 45” apart, spacing between the vertical parts should not exceed 4.”


Can I use chain link fence panels for my playground?

Yes! For chain link playground fences, the following specifications set by ASTM International apply:

  • Mesh opening of 1¼” between parallel sides of the mesh. The horizontal measurement between corners in the mesh opening also cannot exceed 1¾” (unless the fence has been installed with privacy slats fastened at the top and bottom, with no openings exceeding 1¾”).

Why is PalmSHIELD’s playground fencing the best on the market?

PalmSHIELD’s playground fencing abides by established safety requirements and features non-climbable designs. But what really distinguishes these barriers from the competition is our customization options for enhanced security and beauty. For instance, high-quality gates, which PalmSHIELD offers in both single and double leaf builds. Our gates meet the following requirements:

  • Minimum gate latch height of 48.” This height, set by ASTM International, helps prevent young children from opening the gate. We also fabricate and install shields for these latches—to avoid accidental laceration to children’s faces if they come in contact with it.
  • Optional panic hardware. Our alarm systems detect unauthorized entries/exits when the playground’s not in use. When activated, these systems emit a noise loud enough to be heard at nearby buildings and residential homes.
  • Safely closing doors. These gates are engineered to close behind the user, thereby preventing incidents where doors are accidentally left open. Alarms and fully closing gates are essential for school playground fences.

PalmSHIELD is also unique in that, while we accommodate ASTM specifications, our playground fence panels and gates can be custom-designed to match your specific needs. Our in-house design team works with you directly so that the products we engineer match the aesthetics of your property. (Now you can have school playground fencing that matches your mascot’s color scheme!)

In addition to playground fencing, PalmSHIELD specializes in 36” solid screening which can be used to help shield attractive nuisances from sight. If kids cannot see that babbling book, the tractors on that construction site, that stray dog roaming the nearby field, they won’t be so tempted to leave the playground in the first place.