No Fault Blog: The Importance of Climbing (and Keeping It Safe)

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No Fault Safety Surface installed for playground at ARISE at the Farm in Chittenango, NY


You might remember what it’s like to be shorter than all the grown-ups around you. When all the conversations were sailing over your head, and all the excitement was UP THERE, out of reach.

It’s no wonder some kids turn into mountain goats as soon as they reach their toddler years. It doesn’t take them long to learn that “all I have to do is scoot that stool over there to be able to reach the table!” or even “all I have to do is pull myself onto the couch, then I can reach something on the bookcase!”

Anyone who’s been around children knows climbing comes so naturally to them.  It literally gives them the power to change their perspective. When they look out and see the world from a new vantage point, they feel accomplished. They feel proud of pulling themselves up to that level where “important” things happen.

You may not be surprised to know that kids learn through movement. Jumping, running – and yes, climbing.  Those are all ways for them to explore the world around them and find their role in it. Obviously, it’s a huge confidence-builder for little minds. It’s also a great way to strengthen kids’ muscles and help them develop critical problem-solving skills and sharpen cognitive skills such as memory, spatial awareness and risk-taking. It gives them a challenge.

It’s not just young kids who are yearning to go up. Rock climbing in public spaces has gotten popular in recent years. These days, many parks and playgrounds feature natural and manufactured boulders.

Boundary-pushing and thrill-seeking aside, we have to be mindful that sometimes a child who loves to jump and climb may try to jump or climb on things that are not safe.

With climbing, especially, comes the danger of falling. In response, playground equipment manufacturers have been “caging in” or enclosing some of the taller climbing structures found on modern playgrounds. This is somewhat controversial, as studies show children misusing this equipment (often by climbing outside the barriers) can get tangled up in the rope netting or otherwise injured by the enclosure.

If you are considering incorporating climbing structures into your playground, be sure to install safety surfacing under and around it. Fortunately, today’s IPEMA surfacing manufacturers (like No Fault Surfaces) offer surfacing that meets the ASTM F1292 Safety Standard for impact attenuation to heights that approach 16 feet. “Impact attenuation” of playground surfacing material is the measure of its shock absorbing properties.

What does that mean? It means a significantly reduced likelihood of severe head injuries (the most serious type of playground injury) and the most frequent cause of death from playground fall-related accidents.

“Critical height” is defined as the “maximum height below which a life-threatening head injury would not be expected to occur.” These properties differ by the playground surface material. For instance, with rubber mulch, if the playground equipment fall height is 8 feet, the mulch must be 6 inches deep. If PIP is used as a protective safety surface, a depth of 3.5 inches is required.

No Fault Safety Surface is made with a combination of EPDM or TPV rubber granules and a cushion layer of rubber that is poured-in-place on-site. It’s “Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)” approved for indoor and outdoor applications, low maintenance, and freeze/thaw resistant. The complete No Fault Safety Surface System provides a resilient, porous, and unitary playground safety surface that is known to be the absolute best playground safety surface available for fall protection. To learn more, contact us today!

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