Critical Fall Height

June 26, 2024

Hello, everyone. J-dub here. Last month, I started a new vlog series on playground shock pads. I also spoke about testing requirements, critical fall heights, and fall zones that must be acknowledged when estimating and installing synthetic turf playgrounds.

Today, I will briefly discuss Fall Height and CFH (Critical Fall Height).

According to the ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials), fall height and critical fall height are the vertical distance between a designated play surface and the protective surfacing beneath it. The fall height necessary for playground equipment can vary depending on the type of equipment that is being used.

For instance, the required fall height for climbing equipment differs for each piece. Taller equipment, such as swing sets and slides, may require different requirements than roundabouts and small jungle gyms.

Playground equipment always dictates the CFH (critical fall height).

Critical fall heights also determine and evaluate the thickness of the shock pad. This can be done in a laboratory under controlled conditions or in the field, where the “fall zones” are at the actual play area.

When you install playground equipment and playground surfacing, you should consider the depth of the area that is needed. Typically, the thickness of the protective surfacing will match the equipment’s CFH Critical Fall Height.


It’s crucial to note that different play equipment have different fall heights, which may change the thickness of the safety surface.


Please consult with the playground equipment manufacturer to determine the rating for each piece of equipment and identify the Critical Fall Height to determine the correct fall surface.


Come join me next time, where I’ll discuss “Fall Zones” and the areas surrounding the playground equipment, such as slides, swings, and climbing structures where children could fall and injure themselves.

Until next time?… JW OUT!!!!

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