Spring Forward with Playground Safetyplanning ahead // on Tuesday March 14, 2017
Spring is just around the corner – is your playground ready for the hours of activity that come with warmer days? If you have an on-site playground, now is a good time to inspect equipment and surfaces to ensure they’re kid-friendly and ready for action. (Even better – make regular playground checks part of your overall maintenance plan.)
When inspecting your playground, be on the lookout for the following red flags. If you spot any, pause playground activity until problem spots have been fixed and equipment is safe to use.
Sharp points, edges and corners. All metal or wood corners should be rounded, and wooden equipment should be smooth and free of splinters and cracks.
Rust and peeling paint. Paint, galvanize or otherwise treat metal playground equipment to prevent rust; be sure the finish you choose does not contain a harmful amount of lead.
Loose parts. If you can easily loosen or remove protective caps, fasteners and connectors without a tool, you need to address the problem ASAP. Likewise, equipment and parts – handrails, guardrails, protective barriers, and ladder steps and rungs – must be sturdy and secure.
Large openings. Check the openings at the top of slides, between platforms and the distance between ladder rungs – nothing should measure between 3.5 to 9 inches. This distance creates an entrapment hazard.
Broken glass and other dangerous debris. Make sure trash receptacles are easily accessible.
Protrusions or projections that could catch on children’s clothing.
Tripping hazards like exposed concrete footings, tree stumps and rocks.
Hard, compacted surfaces like asphalt, concrete, soil, grass and turf. Shock-absorbing cushioned surfaces can prevent injuries – or lessen the severity of injuries – when children fall. Examples include a 9-12-inch layer of wood chips, mulch, sand or pea gravel, or a surface made of safety-tested rubber/rubber alternative.