Spring is here – are your playgrounds safe?

Each year, more than 200,000 children go to emergency rooms with injuries associated with playground equipment.  Most injuries occur when a child falls from the equipment onto the ground.  The combination of regular use along with changing weather conditions creates safety and maintenance issues that must be addressed.  Conducting inspections to identify problems and performing regular maintenance will help ensure your playgrounds are ready. 

You can significantly reduce the chance of injuries and liabilities associated with playground equipment by following your equipment manufactures’ maintenance and inspection guidelines.  Other sources for inspection guidelines include the Consumer Product Safety Commission Handbook for Public Playgrounds and the National Program for Playground Safety. Now is the time to ensure your playgrounds meet these recommended guidelines.

Here are some tips to help make sure your playgrounds are ready.

  1. Inspect the protective surfacing (loose fill material) around the equipment to ensure it is evenly spread and at least nine inches deep (six inches deep for shredded/recycled rubber).  Clean out trash and animal droppings.  Examine rubber mats for curls, wooden borders for splinters or warping that may create trip hazards.
  2. Make sure all equipment is firmly anchored.  Eliminate any trip hazards such as exposed play structure footings, elevated rocks or roots.
  3. Inspect all play structures for cracks, breakage, rust spots or splinters.  Repair or remove any imperfections that could cause injury.  Eliminate sharp edges that could cause cuts or punctures.  
  4. Shake stairs, railings and other components to make sure they are secure and sturdy enough to withstand the wear and tear for the upcoming season.
  5. Check all bolts and nails for excessive protrusion and tightness.  Replace rusted or loose fasteners that can’t be tightened.
  6. Look for missing protective caps or plugs and replace them as needed.
  7. Make sure moving play equipment is in good working order.  Look for wear in gears and lubricate as needed. 
  8. Inspect chains and ropes to make sure they are secure and in good condition. 
  9. Equipment handles should be intact and bumpers in place to cushion a landing or stop.
  10. Wash equipment with soap and water as needed.  Never use bleach as this can damage rubber components and adhesives.

Keeping your playgrounds as safe as possible is a responsibility you cannot afford to overlook.  Be proactive with your safety and maintenance efforts and you can help prevent injuries. 

VMLIP has a number of videos available at no charge for eligible members to review on playground safety, including S.A.F.E. Playgrounds, The Nuts and Bolts of Playground Maintenance, and Inspecting Playgrounds for Hazards.  These, along with the Playground Safety Module are available in the VMLIP Multimedia Library.

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