Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park is a beautiful, garden themed amusement park located in Gilroy, California. It spans across 536 acres, and has 22 rides and five attractions. Gilroy Gardens also contains some fun and exciting water play/splash pad areas.
No Fault was delighted to partner with The Don Chapin Company to provide our No Fault Safety Surface at Gilroy Gardens’ new water park expansion. Splash pads are a great way to stay cool on those hot summer days! The customer wanted a beach/water theme with inlaid gecko designs to match the play equipment, and the results came out really well!
For more information on our No Fault Safety Surface for Water Play, visit our product webpage at https://nofault.com/water-play/ or give us a call at 800-232-7766. Our Regional Sales Managers are readily available to provide you with courteous and quality service in the planning and development of your project.
Are you confident that you’re making the best choices for your playground projects?
It’s important that you know the safety products you install are environmentally friendly and safe for kids. That’s why we at No Fault take great pride in providing rubber products that enhance playground and park safety – products made from the cleanest and highest-quality non-toxic materials available.
In the early days of rubber playground safety surfacing, a few sensational media reports claimed that recycled rubber might be too dirty or potentially contaminated with foreign particles. Today, however, there is no peer-reviewed scientific data that suggests recycled rubber poses any health risks to children, athletes or anyone else. On the contrary, more than 70 scientific studies conducted by both private and government entities specifically say otherwise, according the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc.
Let’s take a look at how today’s most stringent playground safety standards depend on recycled and “upcycled” rubber and how manufacturers ensure that only the safest materials are used.
Rubber has been recycled and repurposed for many years. But the market demand in the last few decades — a demand seen in places as diverse as hospitals, agriculture, sports, urban infrastructure, and parks and playgrounds – has meant an increased use of scrap rubber. Much of this rubber comes from old automobile tires that are no longer functional. In most cases, old tires ended up in the landfills. Worse, many were dumped in lakes, vacant lots, along the sides of roads, or on public property.
Today, however, U.S. scrap rubber manufacturers recycle roughly 110 million tires annually. As it turns out, scrap tire rubber can be used to make reliable playground safety surfacing.
No Fault Safety Tiles, poured-in-place (PIP) surfacing, rubber mulch, timbers, and other playground safety products contain these “second-life” rubber components. These materials have undergone rigorous safety testing. This testing (conducted by state and federal agencies and independent, third-party industry associations) has shown time and time again that recycled crumb rubber and other re-used rubber poses no harm to humans, animals, or the natural environment. In fact, research shows no significant health risks are associated with artificial (synthetic) turf made from recycled rubber infill.
What is “Upcycling”?
No Fault’s industry-leading playground safety surfacing products contain mostly postconsumer content. And what exactly is that, you might ask? Essentially, it’s defined as waste materials that can no longer be used for their initial purpose. “Recycling” is a more common term. It describes a sustainable process that involves creating a new product from an old one (using old aluminum cans to make new ones, for example). However, recycling is often too expensive to justify the process. The next best thing is “upcycling,” or reusing one material to produce something different.
“Upcycling” is the process of taking a material that was already used for one thing and – instead of throwing it away – converting it into something useful. For example, we upcycle rubber waste to create high-performance safety surfacing. This waste comes from vehicle tires which contain traction and shock-absorbent properties.
At tire recycling facilities, industrial shredders use powerful, interlocking knives to chop tires into smaller pieces. Tires may also be shredded through a cryogenic process, using liquid nitrogen to freeze rubber until it becomes very brittle. Powerful hammers then smash the tire apart, and cryogenic grinding makes a fine powder of the pieces. Non-rubber components (such as steel belts) are removed and used for metal recycling.
The manufacturing process our products go through includes grinding and screening to remove stones, metal, fiber, and other materials from scrap tire rubber. This is an exacting process designed to meet rigorous ASTM specifications – as well as our own high standards. This vertically integrated, energy-efficient manufacturing process involves continuously testing and retesting products to maintain a high level of quality and trust. This process uses very little water and heat, plus scrap rubber is always reused to minimize waste.
The use of manmade safety surfaces on playgrounds has increased over the years. Today, both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Consumer Product Safety Commission recommend and promote rubber mulch as an alternative to wood chips. This mulch and other No Fault surfacing products are made from recycled (or “upcycled” rubber) that has been thoroughly cleaned, stripped of any harmful metal, and remanufactured to create tiles, mulch, and PIP rubber surfacing that protects against falls and other injuries. If you have any questions or concerns about our world-class safety surface products, please call us at 1-800-232-7766 to speak with a No Fault representative today.
This project was a BIG DREAM come true! Marine Park in the City of Blaine, Washington now has the most awesome playground complete with a sailing ship, sharks circling within the poured-in-place rubber safety surfacing, climbing boulders, a lighthouse featuring historical images, and is right on the water overlooking White Rock, British Columbia! No Fault Sport Group partnered with Buell Recreation to provide our No Fault Safety Surface for this fun, maritime- themed project!
Tina Frey with Buell Recreation spoke with Alex Wenger, Community Planner with Community Development Services at the City of Blaine to get his comments. Alex stated, “The project has really exceeded our expectations. Looking at the design on paper really doesn’t compare to standing on a full-sized ship or climbing the lighthouse and looking out at the water. We’re really looking forward to our first summer with the new play structures. Even during the winter months, the playground has experienced a lot of use. The poured-in-place rubber surfacing material really set the whole playground off in a wonderful way. The blue water-colored surfacing surrounding the climbing rocks and sailing ship brings the whole project together, and everyone loves the sharks and fish circling around the ship! The feel and texture of the rubber surfacing is really cool to experience under your feet, and adds a ton of play value compared to standard wood chips. It is also much easier for strollers and wheelchairs to get around, and it drains great and cleans up nicely.”
Alex also stated, “Another aspect that came out really well was the full panel images provided by BCI Burke. There are six full-size image panels on both the ship and lighthouse structures that display digitally enhanced historic photos from the Whatcom Museum displaying Blaine’s maritime past. Each panel includes a description and write-up by local historian, Marjorie Reichhardt. The result is a fun way for both kids and parents to learn about the city’s history turning the playground into a mini-museum with slides! The project also required a big effort to raise private funding, and there are 7 different types of sea life plaques to honor the individual donors that contributed over $85,000 in donations. The sea life plaques were created using a hand carved wooden mold, then poured in bronze and engraved with the donor’s name. Placed on a turquoise stained concrete wall that holds up the gangway to access the ship, the sea life donation wall creates a nice effect as the backdrop to the ship and blue rubber safety surfacing that the kids can go right up to and explore.”
It was a proud moment for the City of Blaine during the grand opening celebration that made the 2-plus year project worth every penny. The community has worked hard to see their vision realized, and the children who visit will have trouble leaving this magical place!
When it comes to providing safe play opportunities for both disabled and non-disabled children, not all playgrounds are created equal.
You wouldn’t be alone if you thought play areas that are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) are “good enough,” or if you believed “accessible” playgrounds and “inclusive” playgrounds are the same thing.
In fact, the ADA offers no specific definition of what makes a playground “accessible” or “inclusive”. While all playgrounds built or remodeled in the U.S. today must be ADA-compliant, the law generally offers a bare minimum standard that only requires playgrounds to provide wheelchair access.
A playground needs to be accessible in order to be welcoming for all kids. However, an accessible playground is not always inclusive for children of all physical and mental abilities.
Sound complicated? It isn’t. Read on.
The ADA: A Good Start
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) changed how playgrounds and parks are laid out and designed by requiring them to ensure play opportunities for children of all abilities. For example, the ADA mandates today’s schools, childcare centers, and municipalities to have playgrounds that incorporate:
- Ramps and other barrier-free travel routes
- A variety of accessible play options
- Appropriate safety surface beneath equipment
However, “accessible” play options aren’t always the same as “accessible” play options in ADA terms.
For example, ADA compliance might require an accessible path leading to the playground. It might also require that a large climbing structure has a transfer station where children in wheelchairs can pull themselves onto the structure. Ground-level play equipment might be included in an ADA-compliant playground design as well, to engage kids who are unable to leave their chairs.
As mentioned, ADA compliance means accessible routes must connect the play area to the school, parking lot, or facility that it serves. The ADA even specifies the width, slope, and surface of these routes. The law gives a minimum height for “entry points and seats” (where children transfer, sit, or gain access—including swing seats, spring rocker seats, and crawl-tube openings).
Taking wheelchair mobility into account, the ADA recommends height, width, and depth minimums for “play tables” where kids gather to play over a shared surface. It also defines “maneuvering space” as the space required for a wheelchair to make a 180-degree turn and at least one maneuvering space be provided on the same level as elevated play components.
Accessible Playgrounds: A step further
Though “accessibility” is a term often used in reference to ADA compliance, the ADA offers no specific definition of what makes a playground accessible. A nationally-recognized industrial standards organization, the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), developed guidelines in response to the ADA to build on the federally-mandated minimum requirements. The ASTM F1487 Standard provides guidance on designing playgrounds and play equipment for an even higher level of accessibility and safety.
Consider this: Accessibility is about travel, movement, and approach (or entry). So, a playground that is accessible is one that is easy for a child who uses a mobility device to maneuver in or around.
An accessible playground offers a range of play experiences to children of varying abilities. However, it doesn’t mean that every piece of equipment must be usable by every child. For example, a playground that offers a glider for kids in wheelchairs (picture a platform where a chair can be secured) is considered accessible since it provides an alternative to the nearby swing set that isn’t wheelchair-friendly.
Inclusive Playgrounds: The Next Level
An inclusive playground is one that encourages and enables disabled and non-disabled children to engage with one another in play and discovery. As mentioned earlier, a wheelchair glider somewhere on the playground makes the playground “accessible.” Modified swing sets where children can swing without leaving their wheelchairs and remain in the same play area as everyone else might make the playground truly inclusive.
Inclusion means designing to meet the needs of children who use wheelchairs, have autism or are sight-impaired. There are no “special needs” sections because all the equipment is designed to challenge all children without segregation or stigmatization.
Inclusive play might include any of the following:
- A fence to protect children from running into a nearby gully;
- A path around the play area that gives children time to watch the action and adapt to a new situation until they feel ready to engage;
- Safety surfacing that makes it easy to move wheelchairs and other mobility devices. A slip-resistant, durable material like No Fault Safety Surface keeps children safe from falling and is easy to use with crutches, leg braces, and wheelchairs.
Where to Begin
Play areas should be designed to challenge children of different ages and abilities. At an inclusive playground, kids can learn to take risks together; none of them are left on the sidelines wishing they could participate.
If you’re building or renovating a playground, you should work with an accessible playground equipment manufacturer who understands inclusive design.
No Fault Sport Group works with manufacturers to build inclusive playgrounds that emphasize safety, inclusion, and value. Please give us a call toll-free at 1-800-232-7766 and let us know you read this blog.
You probably already know that poured-in-place (PIP) rubber surfacing is the most popular playground surface choice for city parks and school playgrounds.
The reasons are many. PIP safety surfacing gives you color, designs and theme options that are eye-catching (to attract the kids) or that blend in with the existing landscaping (to keep the grown-ups happy).
But is poured in place rubber safe?
Let’s take a look at the facts and see how companies like No Fault take responsibility for one of the most popular outdoor playground products on the market.
What is PIP Safety Surfacing?
First, let’s look at the product, since different manufacturers have different names for their products and there may be some confusion as a result.
No Fault Safety Surface is made of clean recycled rubber and a decorative top layer made of virgin rubber EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer) or TPV (Thermoplastic vulcanizates) granules held together by polyurethane binding agents. The type of rubber selected depends on the application, location and color selections for the project.
The sub-base onto which the PIP surfacing is poured must be at least four inches thick and have a gradual slope to promote drainage. These underlying foundations are usually asphalt or concrete.
The two layers of rubber are mixed and poured on-site in two layers: an impact-absorbing layer topped beneath the decorative TPV or EPDM wear layer (available in a wide variety of colors and patterns). After the PIP surfacing is poured, it is hand-troweled using guide rods, and then cured to form a unitary (unbroken) sheet of shock-absorbing safety surface.
What are the benefits?
The end result is a highly durable, permeable, slip-resistant surface providing cushioned comfort in an unconventional palette of color combinations.
Because it is a unitary surface, PIP does not move or shift around. This means your team won’t be constantly adding additional loose fill surfacing, replacing mulch, or fixing torn tiles. Cleanup usually takes little more than a leaf blower, though using approved cleaning solutions for a more thorough wash-down may be a good idea on occasion.
PIP also comes in different thicknesses, determined by the maximum critical fall height needed for your location. This ensures maximum safety for all the kids you are responsible for. Because PIP is a seamless surfacing material typically sloped to ground level, it is highly ADA accessible. This means wheelchairs can move easily over the surface, unlike with gravel, sand or mulch.
Finally, poured-in-place surfacing is one of the most versatile, durable and visually attractive surfacing options available. The typical lifetime of PIP surfacing ranges up to 10 years, depending how much use it gets. Though there are other less expensive options, PIP makes the most sense for a long-term investment due to the lack of ongoing maintenance and longevity of the product.
So … Is PIP Surfacing Safe?
There are three questions that crop up when we’re discussing the safety of poured in place rubber surfacing with our potential customers. These are:
- Will it Protect Kids When They Fall?
- Are There Unsafe Chemicals?
- Do Recycled Tires Contain Metal?
Let’s look at each in turn.
Will it protect kids when they fall?
What goes up must come down, and no one knows this better than PIP manufacturers. Critical fall height (CFH) refers to the impact attenuation (or shock absorbency) of a surface material and is the “maximum height from which a life-threatening head injury would not be expected to occur.” Naturally, this depends on the vertical distance between a designated play surface and the protective surfacing beneath it.
Ensuring that a product meets the required CFH is best done via field impact attenuation testing. The added cost of field testing is the best insurance for your investment and for the safety of the children using the play area. Because most PIP surfacing gets slightly harder when it is cold, impact testing should be done on cool days to ensure the surface is compliant all year-round.
The complete No Fault Safety Surface System provides you with a resilient, porous and seamless playground safety surface that is known to be the absolute best playground safety surface available for fall protection. It is tested and proven to provide fall protection up to 12 feet (with a PIP depth of 6.5 inches).
Are there unsafe chemicals?
You can count on kids to put their hands and mouths all over everything, and (naturally) rubber playground surfacing is no exception. That’s why the California Integrated Waste Management Board performed extensive testing on potential skin irritants and potentially carcinogenic chemicals that may be present in poured-in-place surfacing. (Read details here: Are Poured in Place Playground Surfaces Safe? By David Spease, ASLA, CPSI.) Although natural rubber contains latex (a skin sensitizer), the tests showed no skin irritation as the result of contact with poured-in-place surfacing materials.
Furthermore, all chemicals in recycled rubber that could be considered carcinogens occur at concentration levels far below the level of one part per million (generally considered an “acceptable” level).
Finally, the study also looked at the health effects of ingesting of tire shreds and determined that it was unlikely to produce any adverse health effects in a 3-year-old child. However, since PIP is a solid surface product, there should never be any loose pieces of material from it.
Do recycled tires contain metal?
Tires used for PIP surfacing undergo an extensive sieve process to remove fibers and are then sent via conveyor belt to have any metals removed via powerful magnets and vacuums.
No Fault’s safety surface innovations in the playground market have set the standard for playground safety, accessibility, and long-term durability. Indeed, our industry-leading product offerings have directly influenced the development of two sets of product safety standards:
- American Standard for Testing Methods (ASTM): A body that administers a non-governmental, third-party certification program and tests for public safety. They certify a broad range of safety and protective products used occupationally and recreationally.
- Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC): A body that protects the public from unreasonable risks of serious injury or death from consumer products that might pose a fire, electrical, chemical, or mechanical hazard.
That said, PIP products cannot be visually inspected for compliance; certificates of compliance simply indicate that the products will comply if installed as recommended. The owner of your project is ultimately responsible for ensuring that all products used meet applicable safety requirements.
Whether you’re planning a playground, jogging track, water play area, walking path or pool deck, our coast-to-coast installation service gives you consistent quality. All of our poured-in-place Safety Surface products are engineered on-site by a certified installation crew.
Weigh your options. Look at the competition. Find out why No Fault is the choice for parks and recreation departments, resorts and hotels, children’s hospitals, public and private schools, and theme parks all over the nation.