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8 Factors to Consider When Selecting a Safe Playground Surfacing

Playgrounds are an integral part of childhood. This play-cum-social time accounts for some of our most cherished childhood memories. It is in these playgrounds that we learn important values like brotherhood, sportsmanship, and the spirit of inclusivity. A playground is also a place where a child learns to fall and rise. As long as they are safe, it counts as a normal and necessary part of their growing years. Hence, the safety of a play area is paramount.

Traditionally, public parks used hard grass, gravel, or concrete as surfacing materials. However, hard landing on these surfaces increases the risk of serious injuries like Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs) and even death. For this reason, the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) strongly recommends against the use of playground surfacing materials that are safe and offer adequate shock absorption.

Presently, there are several playground surfacing options available, each claiming to be safe and durable, making it tough to decide which one to go for. We have a list of 8 crucial factors that will help you objectively choose a safe playground surfacing option for the enthusiastic little ones.

1. Critical Fall Height

When kids are on a playground with friends, falls are inevitable.  However, serious falls can dampen their spirits. A smart way to make their playground time enjoyable is to ensure that they land on a safe surface.

A safety study conducted by the National Program for Playground Safety shows an increase in head injuries with an increase in the fall height. Therefore, the fall height protection rate of your surface should be more than the maximum height of the equipment installed at the playground.

The ASTM (American Society of Testing and Materials) lays down certain standards to help equipment manufacturers and playground surfacing firms build safe play areas for kids. Consider this factor when looking for a suitable playground surfacing option.

2. Surface Traction

Surface traction is another important factor to consider. A few surfaces may offer great traction when dry but may not work in wet conditions. This factor is especially critical for outdoor playgrounds in rain-prone areas.

For instance, a poured-in-place rubber surfacing is the most popular playground surfacing choice as it offers good traction in dry and wet conditions.

The surface you choose should offer great traction, reducing the risk of falls and upholding the kids’ safety.

3. Durability

Playground surfaces experience maximum foot traffic, intensive activities, and spills. What’s more? Accessible play areas are often visited by mobility aids like wheelchairs or travel strollers. If the surface isn’t durable enough, these factors can cause gradual degradation of the material, compromising its safety.

Make sure you choose a surface that’s durable and highly resistant to such wear and tear.

4. Accessibility

Another important factor you need to consider is the accessibility of the play area. Inclusivity in public playgrounds isn’t just a nice-to-have feature, it’s a necessity by law.

The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requires playgrounds to be accessible to all. Accessibility in play areas means choosing a material that allows free movement for all, including kids with disabilities. An ideal surface will offer minimal resistance for the movement of children using wheelchairs and other mobility aids. Select a surfacing that complies with the ADA requirements.

5. Warranty Period

Playground surfacing, whether indoor or outdoor, is an investment towards the safety of kids. Therefore, it’s wise to choose a material that’s durable and reduces the risk of injuries.

The surface you choose for the play area should offer a long-term warranty, implying that the area complies with the necessary safety standards and requires minimal maintenance.

For instance, Rubcorp offers a 5-year warranty on its poured-in-place rubber surfacing. Rubber floors are sturdier than other playground surfacing materials and offer excellent shock absorption. Most of our clients are extremely pleased with the performance of PIP rubber surfacing in their commercial playgrounds and outdoor play spaces.

6. Environmental Factors

When choosing an ideal surface for an indoor playground, environmental factors may not matter much. However, for outdoor playground surfacing, it’s critical to pay heed to factors such as drainage capability that allows no standoff water in case of rain.

Also, ultraviolet protection and temperature withstanding capabilities are crucial to ensure longevity, durability, and maintaining the aesthetics of the surface. Consider the local climatic conditions and other environmental factors when making a playground flooring decision.

7. Visual Appearance

Children have a prompt response to visual stimuli and colors are a critical part of it. A study conducted by researchers at the University of California reveals that colors have a powerful effect on the kids’ mood. For instance, bright colors represent positive emotions while the darker hues are for negative feelings.

For the playground surfacing, choose colors that promote a joyful environment and render a calming effect on the young minds. Very few surfacing materials offer a wide range of kid-friendly colors. Consider this factor to encourage kids to have an enjoyable experience on the playground.

8. Maintenance

Maintaining and cleaning kids’ playgrounds is tough. Little hands are capable of creating a big mess. Dirt, dust, leftover snacks, and sticky spills not just look messy but also cause allergies and infections in kids.

Therefore, it’s wise to choose a surface that’s easy to clean and maintain. This will keep the play area sanitized and inviting throughout the year.  This is one of the main reasons why play area and daycare owners prefer rubber surfacing. Being resistant to moisture and stains, rubber proves to be an excellent choice for such high-traffic and mess-prone areas.

Summing Up

Playgrounds are a critical aspect of a child’s growing years. Hence, installing a surface that’s safe and skid-proof can encourage kids to have a great playtime without worrying about serious fall injuries. The choices we make as adults for the younger generation have lasting effects on their lives. Use the factors shared in this post to invest in a safe playground surfacing.

Rubcorp is a leading manufacturer and supplier of rubber surfacing for playgrounds, recreational centers, and daycares. Our team of certified professionals is trained to consider all safety aspects when working on a playground surfacing project. Get in touch with us to know more!

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Creative Director, Rubcorp Distribution, LLC

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