As the first week of school commences, there is lots to think about for both families and educators! Of course the majority of back to school planning is focused on programs inside the classroom, it is equally important to consider your school’s outside surroundings; specifically the outdoor playground area.
September is often a warm and beautiful month for continuing with outdoor play. While the temperatures may be cooling off a little, it won’t stop young children from swinging away at recess or flying down that slide over and over again until the bell rings. Outdoor playgrounds are the perfect icebreaker for the start of the school year, as they offer children a perfect setting to explore, socialize with new friends, connect with nature, and of course get some exercise after sitting in a classroom much of the day. Each of these benefits play a major role in the development of children, therefore it is imperative that you have ensured all playground equipment remains safe and free from defective parts. While this is a process that should be done prior to school beginning, it’s also a process that should be ongoing at least every couple of months. Naturally, equipment wears and tears and if we aren’t monitoring things properly it’s easy to miss areas of a playground that may require fixing up. Failing to do the proper upkeep means the fun is ruined and hefty costs may be coming your way. Preventative measures are key here.
So what can you do to check that your playground is school ready at all times?
- Carefully Look Over Safety Surfacing
This is by far the most important step, that if you forget everything else, don’t forget this one. Did you know that the biggest cause of preventable injuries in playgrounds, are falls due to poor safety surfacing issues? If your playground features wood chips as its surfacing material, always check that they are at a safe level for the fall height of your particular playground component(s). If you have rubber bark, you should be following the same approach. What’s the first thing you can do to fix any uneven leveling? Rake the surface until bark is flat in all areas. It’s easy for this material to be moved around or to be compacted in certain areas; to avoid harmful falls this is a critical step to take and it isn’t difficult to carry out by any stretch. If you discover that the surfacing is too low, get in touch with your playground supply business to schedule delivery of the material.
If it is still low, call your local playground supply company to get a delivery scheduled of new material.
Alternatively, if you’re working with rubber tile or poured-in-place (PIP), go through and confirm that there are no tears or gaps anywhere and if they are, they need to be repaired as soon as possible. It is highly recommended that you have an impact test completed every couple of years to check that the material is durable and resilient enough to withstand fall height criteria of your playground. If it fails to perform properly, you need to have the surfacing replaced right away.
- Keep Eyes Peeled for Damaged Equipment
You don’t want to have to block off your playground the first month of school. To avoid this possibility, make sure everything is free from damage or wear and tear that could lead to damage. Anything that is questionable should be taken seriously and ideally should be replaced when possible, to avoid disappointment and disruption in outdoor play.
- Look for Potentially Loose Hardware
Hardware can get loose over time, so it’s necessary to go through each playground component to check that screws, nails and pegs are all in place properly and tight. Proceed to tighten anything that feels loose for safety purposes. You should have an inspection done regardless annually, but this is good practice in the meantime. The last thing you want to do is create unintended hazards for young children.
Check for Rot and Rust – While you’re at it, make an effort to also look for rusting of any metal pieces or rotting wood. Rust can develop and turn into a big problem down the road so it is best to deal with any signs of rust now, fixing issues before the snow arrives. If you discover rotting wood, remove it right away. Rotten wood has no structural integrity and can therefore cause significant safety hazards.
If you are looking to change up your current outdoor playground or for indoor playground ideas, SPI is a leader in the playground component industry! We build our playground equipment through rotationally molded plastic.
Our custom designs come in an array of styles and colours and safety standards are applied in every aspect of each and every SPI product.
Contact us to learn more today at 519-935-2211