Use this updated checklist to identify hazards in indoor and outdoor active play areas. The checklist is followed by a table to use to plan corrective actions, and suggestions for how to finance any that require seeking additional money to cover costs. Updated 3/27/2014. Reviewed and reaffirmed 6/2018.

Spring brings increased opportunity for outside play. It is a good time to check outdoor active play areas. Check and fix indoor active play areas too. The design and maintenance of large muscle play areas should provide risk-taking opportunities that are not likely to cause serious harm.  The most common and most severe injuries in child care occur during active play.   

Outdoor areas can be multi-purpose. They can  accommodate activities that build a variety of skills: small muscle movement, literacy, numeracy, science and appreciation of nature. They should be a place for daily moderate to vigorous physical activity. For safety, be sure to divide different types of activities to maintain safe distances between them. As much as possible, design safety into the active play area rather than rely on supervision.  Then concentrate supervision in active play areas where risk-taking is likely or encouraged.

Instead of expensive climbing equipment that requires high levels of maintenance and supervision, you can make a low cost climber by using a hill of sand or grass over dirt. A hill challenges children to use a variety of climbing skills and gross motor experiences.  Indoors or outdoors, give children tunnels, low level obstacle courses, and surfaces to practice walking in a straight line. A big cardboard appliance box with all sharp edges removed makes a no cost tunnel.  Use plastic hoops and ribbons in patterns or chalk on a sidewalk for an obstacle course or a board on the ground to practice balance.

Active supervision minimizes harm to children from injury and illness. It is an essential component of quality care. Requirements for active supervision appear in the Environmental Rating Scales, Caring For Our Children, third edition, and in the Head Start Performance Standards. Many states use the Environmental Rating Scales to measure quality in group care.1 Comparable items directly related to active supervision appear in the 4 rating scales: ITERS-R (infant-toddlers), ECERS-R, (Early Childhood) FCCERS-R (family child care) and SACCERS (school age child care). For better scores on items 29 and 30 of the ECERS-R, staff members must:

If you have a poisoning emergency, call 800-222-1222 to be connected with your local poison control center. The website of the American Association of Poison Control Centers lists addresses and contact information for poison control centers. You'll also find information on rumors about poisoning risks and games to play with a poison-prevention theme. 12/2012

Summer is a great time to see animals at a local fair or farm, to visit a petting zoo, or to have animals come visit an early education and child care facility. As cute as baby goats, ducklings and other animals can be, many of these animals carry germs that can make people sick.

Here are five ways to make visits with animals a safe, fun and healthy experience for all.

Hand Washing: Children and caregivers should wash their hands with soap and water after petting animals, touching animals, or even being in the animal area. Everyone in the group should wash hands whether or not they touched the animals. Find out in advance if soap and water are available. Don't visit if you find out the facility doesnít provide hand washing facilities. You can use hand sanitizers for children with visibly clean hands who are 24 months or older, but some animal germs are resistant to alcohol. As a make-do until you can get to soap and water, carry a plastic bag of paper towels wet with soapy water and a bag of paper towels just wet with plain water to clean and rinse the children's hands. Wash with running water as soon as you can.

Tips for parents and caregivers on managing human or animal bites. See Managing Infectious Diseases in Child Care and Schools, 4th Edition available at  or search for more information. In PA, please send your health and safety request with your name and phone number to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

This workshop highlights special practices needed to protect staff and children from contact with blood or other potentially infectious body fluids. Learn how to minimize risk of exposure to disease causing pathogens (germs, viruses, etc.) Learn how to meet Standard Precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements. Explore the adequacy of your facility's policies and Exposure Control Plan. Discuss how to handle a biting incident.

Many electronic toys, musical/talking books, mini remote controls, singing greeting cards and other electronics are in homes and early learning and child care programs.  Inside the battery compartment of these items are button-size, lithium batteries that can cause serious injuries when swallowed.  These batteries can get stuck in a child’s throat.  Saliva triggers an electrical current that causes a chemical reaction that can severely burn the esophagus (food tube) in as little as two hours.  Children under the age of 4 years old are at highest risk for the injury.  In 2010 alone, more than 3,400 button battery swallowing cases were reported in the U.S., resulting in 19 serious injuries and in some cases, deaths. To learn more, view the 2 minute video from The Battery Controlled, a campaign supported by Energizer® and Safe Kids Worldwide:  

This workshop teaches early learning practitioners how to recognize and manage occupational health risks, drawing on the content in Caring for Our Children: the National Health and Safety Performance Standards. Addresses management of stress, infectious disease risks and musculo-skeletal (ergonomic) challenges intrinsic to providing child care. Includes assessment of personal and work-site health promotion strategies.

The CDC is a comprehensive source of information on public health issues, including immunization, sanitation, and infectious disease. The CDC provides a large library of information to the public on many topics. Some of the categories include: Diseases and Conditions; Emergency Preparedness & Response; Environmental Health; Life Stages & Populations; Healthy Living, Injury, Violence & Safety; Traveler's Health; Workplace Safety & Health. The CDC website includes a powerful search engine as well as alphabetical listings. Users will find fact sheets, videos, photos, posters, and other useful materials to download.