Taipei, May 15 (CNA) As many as 96 percent of the slides on playgrounds in 50 public parks in Taiwan's five biggest cities were found to be substandard, posing a threat to child safety, the Jing Chuan Child Safety Foundation said Tuesday.
"We found slides to be the biggest safety hazards in public park playgrounds," foundation executive director Lin Yueh-chin said, based on the group's comprehensive review of child safety on playgrounds.
According to an investigation in April and May by the foundation and SGS Taiwan, a testing and certification services provider, most slides in public parks in Taipei, New Taipei, Taichung, Tainan and Kaohsiung fell short of national safety standards.
"We selected 10 public parks in each of the cities for the survey and found that the slides in only two of the 50 parks met the standards," Lin said.
Most slides either lacked protective railings or had structural flaws that left children vulnerable to falling to the ground, injuring their pelvis or spine while sliding, or even being suffocated if the slide was enclosed in a tube, she said.
The unsafe playground equipment only highlights the many threats to children's safety in Taiwan, which fall into four major categories -- environmental safety (referring to homes, schools and public spaces), traffic safety, recreation safety and learning safety -- the group said.
The foundation complained that although the government decided in 2007 to designate May 15 as Child Safety Day, it has failed to provide resources to back the vision, budgeting an average of NT$1.8 million (US$61,000) per year for child safety measures and programs.
Though the number of children dying from accidents has fallen in recent years, 187 children died of serious injuries from accidents in 2010, and there were 2.16 million cases of children needing medical attention due to accidents that same year.
The figures compiled by the Department of Health did not specify, however, where or how the accidents occurred, Lin said, and she urged the government to set up a databank providing more detailed data so that the group could better target accident prevention measures.
The foundation also recommended that authorities draft a white paper on child safety, in which it clearly lists funding and sets goals for improving child safety in Taiwan, Lin said.
(By Hsu Chih-wei and Elizabeth Hsu)