Ah, Spring! How the children have longed for it. Now they can put away the heavy winter coats and boots and have fun at the playground again. Playground Safety during the yearly seasons is important all year around, but it is essential during the springtime when winter-worn equipment requires a full inspection prior to use.
Whether visiting a playground or maintaining it, there are several items on playground equipment that need to be inspected before children play.
Examine playground safety surfaces.
- Rubber or wood mulch is loose cover and very often it is removed when snow is plowed or shoveled leaving behind less cover than is needed.
- Adding mulch bolsters the "fall height" depth of the existing fill. To determine what the "fall height" depth is for specific playground equipment contact us.
- Replace curled or damaged rubber mats.
- To avoid tripping incidents, test the security of border trim and make sure it is in one piece. Check wooden borders for splinters and warping and make repairs to prevent injuries.
Examine the Swing set.
- Replace rusted swing bolts or couplings. Use galvanized parts as they are less likely to rust so it is not necessary to replace them every year.
- Replace rusted swing chains. Check for open links that pinch little fingers and close them or replace them. When maintaining swings, consider PVC plastic coated commercial swing chains. They are weather resistant, links are permanently sealed, and they come in bright colors that liven up any playground.
- Replace broken swing seats or upgrade to vandal proof seats.
Examine play structure integrity.
- Make sure all equipment is firmly anchored to the ground. Look for tripping hazards such as rocks and tree roots, and exposed equipment footings and stakes.
- Structural cracks, breaks, rust spots, and splinters have sharp edges that cause cuts or punctures. These must be repaired before children use the equipment.
- Give railings, stairs, and ramps a shake to make sure they are secured to the structure.
- Protruding screws, nails, bolts, and missing caps or plugs have the potential of causing cuts, punctures, scratches, and other injuries. Tighten or replace screws, nails, and bolts. Cover up holes with new caps or plugs.
- Wooden structures often have more winter damage than plastic structures. Fix cracks with wood filler, remove splinters, sand down rough areas, and seal the wood with a tough sealant to improve the safety of this equipment.
- Climbing nets must not be frayed or have large holes that would trap a child's head, arm, or other body parts.
- Check that slides are well anchored to the ground and free of gaps between the top of the slide and the platform.
- See-saws should have a tire or other type of cushion under the seat to keep it from hitting the ground.
- Check the merry-go-round for sturdy handrails and a level rotating platform without sharp edges. There should be enough clearance between the platform and ground to prevent limbs from being crushed or severed.
Visiting adults can help keep playgrounds safe. Organize cleaning dates to wash equipment. Pick up trash. Report any and all equipment problems to the city, town, school, or organization that owns it and is responsible for its maintenance.
Keeping children safe while using a playground, whether private or public is everyone's concern. Currently, there is not a national mandatory standard for playground equipment. However, some states, such as Texas and New Jersey, have laws that require playgrounds to follow the standards of the American Society for Testing and Materials. Other states may require playgrounds to follow standards set in the Consumer Product Commission's "Public Playground Safety Handbook." Check with local authorities to learn which standard applies to playgrounds in the area and make sure the organization owning the equipment is following it.
To help you along with your playground safety inspection this Spring, we have created a handy Playground Safety Checklist. Download the checklist here!
Here is another great source for any and everything playground safety. It is the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commissions' Public Playground Safety Handbook. This is great resource for when you are ready to check your playground.
If you need to replace any existing equipment, contact Noah's Park & Playgrounds and one of our playground experts can help you determine the condition of your equipment and how to get it properly fixed.