The elementary schools of Richland, Wash., are removing their swing sets, with school officials claiming they are under pressure from insurance companies to keep liabilities from playground injuries to a minimum, The Associated Press reported. The school district's Steve Aagard explained the swings are being removed whenever a school or a playground is renovated, as "swings have been determined to be the most unsafe of all the playground equipment." A report from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates over 200,000 playground equipment-related injuries are treated every year in U.S. hospital emergency rooms, with about 17 of these accidents resulting in death.

Richland’s school district lists nine separate elementary schools on its website and residents under the age of 5 amounted to just 6.3 percent (3,039 people) of the overall population. Inevitably, some residents of the small town favor the removal of hazardous swing sets, while others do not. Muge Kaineoz, whose daughter will begin school next year, agrees with the decision. "Those swings can get crazy," she told KEPR News. Kaineoz, who once witnessed a toddler walk right in front of a moving swing, certainly believes her fears are justified, and in rare cases, children do sustain horrifying injuries, such as experienced by a 7-year-old Vancouver girl who died last week after falling off a swing. reported the girl, whose name was withheld, had fallen off the swing during recess on Wednesday. However, she showed no visible signs of injury and had continued her day at school and even walked home as usual. That evening, she told her father she felt dizzy and later became ill, spurring her parents to call an ambulance. Upon arrival at the hospital, her doctors diagnosed traumatic brain injury and though treated, she died shortly thereafter.

Such a heart-breaking story is extremely rare, though, and so many other parents, while recognizing some risk, see swings as an exuberant part of childhood. "They were our great joy, and we all played on them,” Gail Thorricellas, a Richland resident, told KEPR. “I truly can't remember anyone being hurt."

In its study, CPSC found just under half (about 45 percent) of all playground injuries occurred on equipment at schools and about 31 percent in public parks, while a quarter involved other children, such as when a child walks in front of a swing. Falls accounted for about 81 percent of the injuries on home equipment and 79 percent of the injuries on public equipment. And, virtually all of the falling injuries, whether public or private, occurred from distances of less than 10 feet. According to United Educators, most playground injury lawsuits cite negligence, which allows for an injured party to seek compensation if a school or staff member fails to act reasonably under the circumstances.