Expert Advice: 4 Playground Safety Tips You Shouldn’t Ignore
Playgrounds are not just outdoor entertainment spaces, they also teach kids to socialize with others of their age and encourage them to learn and sharpen their problem-solving skills. They provide kids with opportunities to tackle new challenges and build interpersonal skills, such as sharing and collaborating with peers.
However, defective playgrounds can place kids in considerable jeopardy. Each year, more than 200 thousand children visit emergency rooms owing to playground-related injuries. 79 percent of all playground injuries are due to falls. In fact, falls account for 90 percent of most severe playground injuries.
The above facts are enough to understand the importance of ensuring playground safety. Here are a few tips that can help you build a safe and entertaining playground for the little ones.
1. Conduct Regular Safety Inspections
Prevention is better than cure! Most of the serious playground injuries can be prevented if the play area is routinely checked for unsafe playground equipment and hazardous materials, such as broken glass or sharp objects. A quick inspection of the area can help you identify such risks and prevent unnecessary accidents.
Check the following aspects of the play area to reduce the incidence of playground-related injuries.
Hard surfaces like concrete, gravel, and asphalt are in no way safe for play areas because landing or falling on these surfaces can lead to serious injuries and even death. Hence, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends using a safety surfacing that offers adequate shock absorption in case of a fall.
For this reason, an increasing number of playgrounds are installing poured-in-place safety rubber surfacing as it absorbs the impact of falls.
When choosing a suitable playground surfacing, it’s important to consider a few other factors as well. For instance, the fall height protection rate of the playground surface should meet the standards laid down by the ASTM (American Society of Testing and Materials). This will ensure that the kids land on a safe surface each time they fall or lose balance.
Here’s a detailed post that offers more information in this regard.
Playground safety is for everyone, including children with disabilities. Make sure the play area is designed in a way that kids of all abilities can access and enjoy it.
Today, building accessible play areas is more than a nice-to-have feature. The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) and community pressure has made it critical for playground owners to make the area accessible to all.
If the equipment in the playground is placed close to each other, it can be the cause of serious accidents. The general rule of thumb is to place the pieces of equipment (taller than 30 inches) with at least 9 feet of spacing.
Equipment with moving parts, namely the swings, merry-go-rounds, and see-saws among others should be placed in a separate area. Make sure you inspect the spacing between the equipment, allowing kids to enjoy the space safely for many years to come.
Inspect the playground equipment thoroughly. All metal components should be checked for rust and wooden ones for splintering or cracking. Make sure there are no protruding objects with sharp and unfinished edges. Also, check whether the protective barriers like guardrails are fastened securely.
2. Watch Out for Signs of Wearing
Weather and external conditions play a crucial role in the durability, functionality, and safety of the playground. For instance, playgrounds are high-traffic areas subject to intensive activities like kids jumping and playing around. These factors can cause weak surfaces to chip, hooks and connections to weaken, and ropes to wear out. All this can compromise the safety of the play area.
Make sure you check for basic signs of wear and tear. Moreover, research shows that children respond well to visual stimuli like colors and designs. Hence, the right playground design and colors play a crucial role in improving their cognitive and social skills. On the other hand, dull colors can hurt their emotional wellbeing.
Watch out for signs of dullness. If the equipment or the surfacing has turned brown or gray instead of yellow, orange, blue, or green, it’s time to revamp the space.
3. Invest in Maintenance
As mentioned earlier, the playground is subject to regular wear. Hence, it’s critical to maintain the play area regularly. Be it the surfacing or the equipment in the play area, make sure it’s maintained properly to reduce the risk of accidents and injuries.
4. When in Doubt, Call an Expert
Playgrounds always look like fun until you have an unpleasant incident like a fall or injury. Therefore, it’s important to involve experts in ensuring that the space is safe and enjoyable for the little ones.
Hire playground safety experts who can guide you on the correct building codes and life-safety standards. They can help you make this outdoor recreational space safe for all.
Moreover, since surfacing is a critical aspect of playground safety, it’s wise to involve playground safety surfacing experts who are experienced in designing a perfect play area that meets the ASTM, IPEMA, and CPSC safety requirements.
Playgrounds are an essential component of a child’s growth and development. Hence, these areas should be designed in a way that the kids can have an enjoyable time without worrying about falls and injuries.
Use the tips shared in this post to create a safe entertaining space for kids of all ages and abilities.