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More than 90 percent of the nation's playgrounds pose hidden threats to children, according to a recent survey.

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group and the Consumer Federation of America examined 443 playgrounds in 22 states and the District of Columbia and found that 92 percent lacked adequate protective surfacing, a report released late last month by the consumer-advocacy groups says.

Although the number of playgrounds with hard surfaces under all equipment has sharply declined in recent years, most continue to have a combination of hard and soft surfaces and thus leave children vulnerable to falls, the most common source of playground injury, the report says.

The report also says that 55 percent of the playgrounds examined had equipment that children could get their heads stuck in, leading to strangulation, and that more than three-quarters failed to take the proper precautions to keep children from being hit by moving swings.

An average of 17 children die each year in playground accidents, the report says, and nearly 170,000 are injured seriously enough to be taken to hospital emergency rooms.

Copies of the report can be obtained by calling the U.S. Public Interest Research Group at (202) 546-9707.

Giving Grows: Philanthropic contributions to K-12 and higher education totaled $15.07 billion in 1993, a 5.5 percent increase over the previous year, according to new figures released by the American Association of Fund-Raising Counsel Trust for Philanthropy.

The increase in education giving exceeded the 3.55 percent rise in giving to the nonprofit sector in general. Although private giving over all failed to surpass the 3.89 percent inflation rate in the services sector, it was the largest increase since the recession began in 1990.

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