You spent a lot of money on your playground. That’s why maintaining your playground equipment and safety surfacing is so important! This means looking out for small problems and fixing them before they have the chance to turn into larger, more expensive problems. In the long run, doing so will save you money and will help ensure that the safety materials used to help protect children perform as they are intended.
Regular playground maintenance starts from the ground up. Take safety surfacing, for example. Playground equipment should never be surrounded by concrete, asphalt, or other hard surfaces. Loose-fill surfacing, like engineered wood fiber (EWF), requires lots of upkeep to keep the surfacing at the correct depth.
At the end of the day, there’s one highly durable, permeable slip-resistant protective surfacing that you can trust: poured-in-place (PIP) rubber surfacing. No Fault Surfaces has safety surfacing that is both versatile and visually attractive. It gives you superior fall-cushioning properties, relatively easy maintenance and it lasts for many years.
However, due to its long lasting durability, it isn’t your least expensive surfacing option. This is why regular maintenance is important.
Keeping Your PIP in Tip-Top Shape
“Inspecting and maintaining your playground not only makes good sense, but is your responsibility,” writes Michele Breakfield, Director of Marketing for Cunningham Recreation and Playground Guardian in a recent article titled “Inspecting and Maintaining Your Playground Investment”.
“If properly maintained, your playground can provide children and their families with a safe place to play, learn and grow for decades to come,” Michele writes.
We agree with Michele! No Fault’s unique PIP rubber safety surfacing is easy to clean and care for. It requires a little TLC to keep it looking great and performing well.
Here are some things to help you protect your investment for years to come:
- Keep sharp objects off the surface area
- To clean debris, use brooms with soft nylon bristles or leaf-blowers
- Do not use harsh chemical cleaners. Instead, use soft soap (like laundry detergent) mixed with warm water
- For tougher grime, resist the urge to power wash—it can damage the bond between the EPDM granules
- If you shuffle your feet on the surface and see granules flaking off, you may need to condition/seal your PIP surface with a product that rebinds the granules. How often you do this ultimately has to do with how much sun and traffic it gets. Contact your No Fault representative for more information.
Testing For Impact
Since falls are a very common playground hazard, the protective surfacing under and around playground equipment has to help protect children from head injuries. Regular maintenance of your PIP surfacing includes testing it for impact attenuation, a term for the shock-absorbing properties of the surfacing material.
This testing is done by dropping an instrument (called a Triax 2000 or 2015) from various heights. This instrument simulates a child’s head and gives readings about the force of impact and the time of deceleration to determine the critical height of the surface material (another term that means the fall height below which a life-threatening head injury would not be expected to occur).
If you’re interested in learning more, the specifications for impact attenuation are found in ASTM International Standard F1292, “Standard Specification for Impact Attenuation of Surface Systems Under and Around Playground Equipment.” The purpose of this specification is to reduce the likelihood of life-threatening head injuries.
Beyond cleaning your surfacing material and testing it for its impact resistance, here are a few additional playground maintenance “things to remember”:
Vegetation: A Growing Threat
Are there trees around the playground? If so, that’s great for keeping play areas shady and cool during summer. It also means possible maintenance issues. Be sure to keep overhanging limbs trimmed and use a rake or leaf-blower to keep poured-in-place playground surfacing clean and clear.
Damaged Equipment? Nip It in the Bud
Whether it’s due to vandalism, harsh weather, the cumulative effects of everyday wear-and-tear, or simply the passage of years, playground equipment inevitably breaks. But it doesn’t usually happen all it once—it’s the little things that show up first. Things you may not notice. Like a crack in a plastic slide that can pinch a child’s arm, or splinters on wooden beams that can catch on skin or clothing. Fasteners, connectors, and screws can become detached and cause an injury. Visually inspect your equipment and make repairs as needed.
Develop a Maintenance Schedule
All equipment should be regularly inspected for excessive wear, deterioration, and other potential hazards. The schedule you come up with should be developed based on actual or anticipated playground use. You can consult the manufacturer of each piece of equipment for their recommended maintenance schedules. Heavily-used playgrounds will require more frequent inspections and maintenance.
For more information on our No Fault Safety Surface (poured-in-place rubber surfacing) and our other surfacing products, contact us today.