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WHIO Dayton

Serious playground injuries: How to make sure your children are safe when they play

By WHIO Staff,


Serious playground accidents are more common than you may think.

Every year more than 200,000 kids go to the emergency room for a playground accident. On average, 15 children die from playground accidents each year.

One man has made it his mission to make playgrounds safer so that no one has to experience the heartache his family has been through.

Jillian Richey was nine years old when she ran underneath an old metal slide that her father, Charlie, estimated weighed over 200 lbs. Jill swung on it, and the slide came down on top of her, our sister station WPXI reported.

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“There was a gentleman, a big guy, next to the slide and he picked it off her and she ran like a wounded deer to me, so I’m thinking she’s okay. She said, ‘Daddy, am I going to have to go to the hospital?’ I said, ‘I think so.’ That was the last time she said something to me,” said Charlie Richey.

Jill died later that afternoon at the hospital.

Richey has now made it part of his life’s purpose to make sure that playgrounds are safe for other children.

The playground where Jill was hurt was replaced after her accident, but fast forward to 2023 and that equipment that was replaced is now 30 years old.

Like many school districts, it’s up to the PTO to raise money to replace aging playground equipment.

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“I believe the schools should pay for it, should install them, and they should pay for them, not the parents raising money for a structure on school property,” said Richey.

In June, the school board listened to Richey and agreed. They voted to create a capital fund to replace aging equipment at all four elementary schools, WPXI reported.

Richey says it’s not just a question of who pays to replace the aging equipment, but also that there are no mandatory inspections of school playgrounds.

“Funny if you own a business and you’re six foot up on the ladder, you could be in trouble with OSHA if your ladder doesn’t meet certain requirements, yet we let our children play six feet and we don’t force legislation to have the school districts or community adhere to safe playground regulations,” he said.

Richey would like to see legislation requiring all public playgrounds to be regularly inspected.

At the park near his home where his grandchildren often play, he checks to make sure the bolts are tight and looks at the spacing between bars to make sure a child’s head or neck won’t be trapped. On the surface surrounding the equipment, he checks to make sure the mulch is deep enough to cushion an impact with the ground.

For a public playground safety checklist, visit

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