At No Fault, we view parks and playgrounds as magical places: places that bring communities together. We view them as a place for children to develop social, physical, and cognitive skills that will benefit them well into adulthood.

Although playgrounds have been around for a long time, making them more modern and safe by today’s standards is a key part of making these magical places serve practical functions.

In today’s article, we are going to discuss how a “safety first” makeover can go hand-in-hand with cosmetic upgrades. If you are thinking about renovating your playground in the near future, read on!

 

Safety First Means Regular Maintenance

 

Playgrounds must be regularly inspected to ensure children have access to safe equipment. Someone on your team, preferably a certified playground safety inspector (CPSI), should inspect the equipment on a regular basis for defects and hazardous conditions.

Proper inspections not only focus on the equipment but also focus on the environment and surfacing around the play equipment. Replace anything that no longer functions properly, shows signs of extensive wear and tear, or is missing pieces and parts. Look for anything that poses a risk of injury and resolve the issue as soon as possible.

Pay special attention to:

Hard surfaces:  Start by looking for one of the biggest hazards on playgrounds—hard surfaces. There are several protective surface options when it comes to commercial playground equipment to fit any budget.  Products like our No Fault Safety Surface (poured-in-place rubber) provide the cushioning needed where the risk of falls and head injuries exist.

Improper openings: While you are inspecting your playground, look for areas where small children can insert their head or limbs. Getting one body part stuck while the rest of the body keeps moving is a scary thing to have happen. Since we all know children are curious and never stop exploring, your playground upgrade should include identifying all the openings where children’s limbs could become trapped whether on purpose or accidentally.

Wear and tear: Weather along with normal year in and year out use makes playground equipment hazardous over time. Not only are faded surfaces and chipped paint unattractive, they can also be clues to potentially harmful problems. Screws and bolts may be rusted and loose. Sharp edges may form over time. If your outdoor play equipment is looking run-down, make sure it’s structurally safe before adding a fresh layer of paint and calling it a day. While the paint may make the equipment look updated, the injury hazards are still underneath the surface.

If you already have an existing poured-in-place rubber surface that is showing wear and tear, that’s an easy fix!  We can do a “recap” of the area by installing our No Fault Safety Surface (cap only) to make your playground surfacing look brand new!  It’s much more cost effective since the sub-base and rubber surfacing are already in place on the existing playground. If your sub-base is also compromised, we can repair and patch the areas needing additional safety measures.

Here are pictures of an existing playground area we recapped with our No Fault Safety Surface at Crestline Park in Birmingham, Alabama:

 

Do You Need a Playground Makeover?

If your playground was built one or two decades ago, it likely was not built to match today’s rigorous safety standards.

If the design and safety features (or lack thereof) of your facility reflect an outdated approach to playground construction, it is definitely time for a makeover – for safety and appearance.

If you regularly inspect surfaces for any hazards and monitor the condition of play equipment and surfacing, you will know when the playground needs more than just a facelift.

 

Start Planning Your Makeover

 

Start by taking a long, hard look at where you can minimize unnecessary and avoidable risks like those presented by aged or unkempt playground equipment. You don’t always need a big budget to revamp your playground.  We know funding can be a deterrent from upgrading your playground. Check out our blog on funding options for creative and enterprising administrators!

Start by considering the needs of the children you serve. Get a clear vision of what you want to achieve; determine what your playground lacks;  and decide how you can best focus on the areas that need the most attention while staying within budget. Ask yourself questions like:  should you fix, replace, or remove broken equipment or is there a section of the playground that doesn’t get used often that can be eliminated to focus funding on other areas?

Advancements in design and maintenance have revolutionized playground equipment. Replace broken plastic and rusty metal with next-generation equipment.

Make sure safety surfacing is not an afterthought! Most playgrounds are surfaced with loose-fill terrain such as wood chips and gravel. A flat, unitary safety surface like our No Fault Safety Surface will reduce accidents and encourage children who are wheelchair-bound or similarly disabled to explore and interact with others.

 

Looking Good!

Transforming a playground can mean bringing beauty to the community itself. A fun and imaginative playground experience will draw in families and visitors making your playground a destination instead of an afterthought.

An old or unsightly playground does not serve as the center of a community’s growth, whereas a modern and attractive playground serves as an asset to the future of the community.

 

Conclusion

In 2019, few things are more beneficial to a prosperous community than a playground. Children’s interactions during play build self-esteem, self-awareness, and communication skills. The sensory stimulation helps to develop memory and problem-solving skills.

Playgrounds should serve as a place where children experience the freedom to have fun. As the adults, it is our job to ensure their worry about the risk of injury is minimized.  As such, always make sure playground areas are regularly inspected and that you replace equipment before it becomes dangerous. When it is time for a makeover, appearance is important, but more importantly, keep safety first on your mind!

Public school administrators, commercial & private park owners, school boards, and park and rec administrators have a great deal to consider when planning a playground renovation:  accessibility and ADA compliance, sustainability, safety, maintenance costs, and child engagement. Contact No Fault to help you find affordable playground surfacing for a fun and safe space to play.