Heading into 2020, we have the safest playgrounds for our schools and parks we have ever had. Children can run carefree without fearing unnecessary injuries, while parents and teachers can relax knowing that the little ones are playing in a safe area.
This is in large part due to rubber playground surfaces like poured-in place rubber and improved rubber playground tiles. Not only do these technologies keep today’s playgrounds safe, but they also make them attractive and cost-effective.
Playground equipment and the materials that go into making rubber surfacing have evolved throughout the years. Science and engineering continue to create more features that keep our children safe. Still, playground architects and school administrators need guidance when they are building these play areas.
That’s where IPEMA comes in.
We’ve written in the past about “What does it mean to be “IPEMA certified.” The International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association’s (IPEMA) Certification Seal for Public Play Equipment means that a supplier conforms to the play industry’s highest standards for safety and accessibility.
How IPEMA Helps
IPEMA provides certification services for play equipment and surfacing in the U.S. and Canada. This means they monitor the quality of playground surfacing materials intended for public play.
Nearly 25 years ago, 12 playground equipment manufacturers formed IPEMA to validate manufacturer compliance to the safety standards outlined in ASTM International standards (ASTM is the organization that develops and publishes technical standards for all kinds of materials, products, and services).
The original goals for IPEMA included:
- Make playgrounds safer
- Represent and serve play equipment manufacturers
- Provide members with information on economic and governmental issues affecting the industry
- Promote relationships with other related organizations to enhance the marketplace
For schools to have the latest playground equipment and surfacing, materials need to be supplied by a trusted and reliable manufacturer. IPEMA’s belief is that using products that are held to ASTM standards holds the manufacturer and the products to a higher level of quality. This helps customers select an appropriate manufacturer for their playground products with confidence and peace of mind.
How IPEMA Helps Communities
IPEMA sponsors Voice of Play, a website that fosters relationships between schools and the community with information about the physical, social, emotional, and cognitive benefits of play.
Voice of Play also has information about the latest in playground certification standards, as well as a forum to submit questions to the experts on play at IPEMA. The Newsroom area of the site provides helpful blogs on topics that range from bullying on the playground to creative ideas for playing in the winter months.
Other aspects of the website include:
Checklist for Access: This checklist provided helps owners of public play areas understand how to use the Department of Justice’s Standards for Accessible Design. The Checklist (which you can find here) has info about access route dimensions, surfacing requirements, play equipment ramps, and transfer stations for playgrounds of all sizes.
How to Choose Surfacing: Through research, consultation and collaboration with those on the front line of the playground industry, IPEMA published a surfacing guide to provide a complete source of regulations concerning proper installation and maintenance of all IPEMA-certified playground surfaces, including artificial turf, engineered wood fiber, interlocking tile, poured-in place and rubber mulch. The guide provides an overview of different types of surfacing materials, as well as detailed information on the installation and maintenance of materials to ensure both safety and access.
Play Pledge: Outdoor play is an essential part of every child’s healthy growth and development. As a parent, you can print and sign this pledge to make your child’s play a priority by creating a “play program” with your child. Make a commitment to ensure that your child has at least an hour of outdoor play a day at home and/or at school.
As an IPEMA partner, No Fault is proud to stand behind the safety and integrity of our playground safety products. The following No Fault products are certified by IPEMA under ASTM F1292-18 (Section 4.2):
- No Fault Safety Surface
- No Fault Bonded Rubber Mulch
- No Fault Safety Tile
Contact No Fault toll-free for all of your playground surfacing needs at 866-637-7678.
Shawme-Crowell State Forest is in the town of Sandwich, Massachusetts in Barnstable County. It is a 700-acre oak forest that offers more than 15 miles of trails for hiking, horseback riding, and camping.
Thanks to our partnership with John Hollerbach of Creative Recreation, they now have an amazing wilderness / forest themed playground area that fits naturally into the surroundings. Creative Recreation provided woodsy-looking Miracle play equipment complete with rocks, logs, a frog, and a giant snake (yikes)! At least this snake does not bite!
We provided and installed our No Fault Safety Surface in attractive blue and green colors to brighten the look. These colors enhance imaginative play as well providing the feel of transition from land to water. Wilderness lovers are really enjoying this imaginative playground!
No Fault works with Playground Equipment Reps all throughout the country who provide state-of-the-art, fun and imaginative play structures. No Fault provides and installs our No Fault Safety Surface rubber safety surfacing, which can include in-laid designs / patterns to match any theme. We can also provide other options to meet any budget including safety tiles, bonded rubber mulch, loose-fill rubber mulch and synthetic play turf.
Give us a call today and speak with one of our Regional Account Managers. They can assist you in designing the playground of your dreams!
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.
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.
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.
Should kids be allowed inside dog parks?
The answer to that question is “yes”, if the dog park has a separate playground area designed for children’s play.
Of course, exceptions are made for service/assistance dogs. Some municipal parks or private playgrounds will allow dogs in the same areas where kids are playing, provided they are well-behaved and the owners pick up the dog’s mess.
At No Fault, we are noticing that some dog parks are now adding children’s playgrounds to the park design, and we think it is a great idea! Earlier in 2019, we installed our No Fault Safety Surface for a new playground at Keysville Dog Park in the City of Deltona, Florida. Our customer wanted a colorful and accessible playground that all children could enjoy. Mark Manning, Assistant Director for Parks & Recreation, said they were very happy with the finished playground product, and planned to make our color scheme a “standard playground design” for all the park playgrounds in Deltona. So now, the whole family (parents, children, and their dogs) can enjoy a day at their local dog park!
Photos of the playground at Keysville Dog Park, Deltona, Florida:
Benefits of Dog Parks
If your community does not have a dog park, you may not know that they have become very common. The American Veterinary Medical Association says more than a third of all U.S. households have one or more dogs. As leash laws get more and more restrictive, those dog owners are working with community parks and recreation departments to give their dogs places to roam free.
While any park that allows dogs could be called a dog park, a true “dog park” has specific canine-friendly amenities designed to encourage off-leash cavorting. These might include double gates which allow dogs to enter and exit safely. There might be separate areas for large and small dogs to exercise and socialize. And of course, dog waste stations which are “must-haves” for keeping the park clean.
Public dog parks allow off-leash exercise and social activity with other dogs. When dogs get physical exercise and social interaction, the owners notice improvements in their pets’ behavior, mood, and health.
It’s great to be able to bring both children and their dogs to enjoy a day at the park together!
Dog Parks – Are They Safe For Kids?
Dog parks promote safety because the dogs are not running and tussling throughout the streets. There is always the risk of small fights or play becomes too rough among pups, so introducing children into the mix is something that should be done with care and caution.
The nice thing about having a playground within a dog park is that you can keep your eye on both your child and your canine “child” while they enjoy their playtime in separated areas!
If your child happens to venture into the dog park area, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Dogs can be spooked by small children. Never assume that it is okay for your child to “pet the doggy.”
- Herding dogs, in particular, often have a desire to herd small children. That’s another reason to keep your child near you. You don’t want a 60-lb collie body-checking your toddler just because he wandered too far away from you!
- Small children make funny noises and sometimes move in a jerky, uncertain manner. This can frighten dogs. Be mindful of any behavior in your child that can be seen as threatening towards the animals for the protection of both your child and the dog.
Tips for Dog Owners
If you are taking your dog to a dog park where children may be present, here are a few things to remember:
Take the leash off in the park. New dog owners often prefer to keep their dog on a leash. They think it’ll be easier to control their dog. However, there are a few reasons this is a bad idea in a dog park, especially with children around. These reasons include:
- A leashed dog is a tripping hazard for children.
- Dogs on leashes can feel more insecure and protective of their owner.
- Retractable leashes (which trainers don’t recommend) are especially dangerous, since a dog who feels unrestrained can injure itself.
- A choke chain, gentle leader, or harness can mean injuries or even an escalated dog fight if the dogs get tangled together.
Exercise your dog before you leave home. Here’s something to remember ESPECIALLY if children are around. You may take your dog to the park for exercise, but dedicated dog parks are more for socialization. If your dog has been pent up for hours, suddenly introducing him or her into a stimulating environment is asking for trouble.
So, before you head to the dog park, let them romp for a few minutes in the yard first!
No Fault can help you design your park/dog park playground!
Our Regional Account Managers are great at designing colorful park playground areas that are accessible to all children to meet your needs/theme. And we work with playground equipment Reps all throughout the United States who provide state-of-the art and inclusive play equipment to complement our rubber safety surfacing. Contact us today so we can assist you in creating the perfect play area within your local park and/or dog park.
Children need playgrounds that challenge with a healthy level of risk to develop young muscles. They need to have fun and enjoy play in a way that will help them to succeed in the classroom.
There are several common playground features that do all this and more! Documented in Seven Elements of PLAY and How They Impact Learning in the Classroom (by Deborah Stevens, University of Clemson), here is a quick look at each of these elements and why they help kids in the classroom—and throughout their lives.
Oh … And it wouldn’t be a No Fault article without mentioning that all of these play features can be made safer with our safety surfacing (No Fault Safety Surface, No Fault Bonded or Loose-fill Rubber Mulch, No Fault Safety Tiles, No Fault Synthetic Turf), which lets kids enjoy the playground while lowering the risk of critical injury.
Hand-Eye Coordination: Climbing
Before playground equipment and even sometimes today, children climbed trees. We can’t put our safety surfacing around every tree in the forest. That’s why we encourage climbing features on playgrounds so that the trees can be left for the birds and squirrels.
While using climbing features, children use their eyes to control, guide, and direct their hands. This hand-eye coordination helps in the classroom, too. We use it when reading (visually tracking the words on a page) and when writing (tracking the position of a pencil and controlling its movement as we write).
Climbing enhances spatial awareness, develops the vestibular system (more on that later), and sharpens visual perception as well, which helps in many other ways. Those little climbers aren’t just monkeying around; they are developing skills needed for life!
Body Awareness: Swinging
Ah, the swing set. You no doubt remember one from your childhood, but you probably didn’t know (way back then) swinging was developing balance and equilibrium.
Being coordinated means knowing where your fingers are in relation to your arms and how your arms can work together to keep the fun going. Coordinated movements improve the brain’s ability to process sensory information.
So keep swinging, kids! You’re developing coordination, strengthening your arms and legs, and developing problem-solving skills at the same time!
The swing set also develops the vestibular system. If you’re unfamiliar, that’s the sensory system that gives our brain information about motion, head position, and spatial orientation. Without it, we would not develop the motor functions that allow us to keep our balance, stabilize our head and body during movement, and maintain posture.
Spatial Understanding: Brachiating
Personal space is a concept that, let’s face it, many children don’t “get.”
Brachiating leads to a better understanding of personal space, improved endurance, and better hand-eye coordination. Brachiating is another term that isn’t common. It’s swinging from one arm to another on overhead equipment. Think monkey bars.
Doing this strengthens a child’s upper body and is another way to develop depth perception. Understanding the world around us starts with an understanding of “personal space,” and sometimes just “hanging around” on the playground does exactly that!
Kinesthetic Awareness: Spinning
Some equipment we used to see in the good old days weren’t all that safe for kids on public playgrounds. That’s why you won’t see the big, metal old-school merry-go-rounds much—too many injuries were resulting from them.
But newer, safer versions of the “roundabout” (or “spinner”) are making a comeback, and it’s a good thing. These round carousel features hold several kids at once. They have bars to hold onto and to lean against while riding.
These help children establish strong balance systems and improve posture. They give kids a sense of “center,” which develops something called kinesthetic awareness.
Kinesthetic learners (children who require movement to learn) often find traditional classroom environments challenging, because they need to always be moving. If you encourage this need and provide an outlet, you will be helping a child learn the skills that show up in many things later on—physical activities like running, swimming and dancing.
Cooperation and Leg Flexibility: Sliding
Think about it. The slide may be the most popular feature on the typical playground, but it’s not safe for more than one child to go down at a time.
That means children must line up to keep things fair. They have to cooperate (interact socially) to agree on whose turn it is. They have to climb the ladder one at a time. All of which builds their social skills when interacting with others.
Sliding also promotes leg-hip flexibility and can help prevent a condition known as “W-sitting.” This is when a child is seated on the floor with one leg on each side of their body in the shape of a “W.”
W-sitting can be a precursor to development delays. W-sitting can aggravate poor flexibility in the legs and hips because it doesn’t allow a child to rotate their trunk. It can even discourage kids from hand preference.
Sliding forces a child’s legs in front of them, which encourages kids to use their limbs in ways that will help with walking, sitting and body awareness.
Sensory Awareness: Touching, Hearing (etc.)
Children rely on sensory input to learn about the world around them. This means all of these are important parts of the playground experience: stimulating sights, sounds, smells, touch, taste, balance, and movement.
All playground activities come into play here … Not just one feature or another. Sensory stimulation is anything that strengthens the eye muscles, calms an anxious or frustrated child, or aids in developing and enhancing memory.
Early Childhood educator, Jami Murdock, writing in the ABcreative blog, described how sensory play helps children of all abilities experience the world. She writes about how visual processing helps children understand the things they see while they play, as well as how noise and music help develop a child’s auditory system. Murdock also writes about the tactile system, the largest sensory system in the body, and how it helps the brain organize information.
If you’re designing a playground, make sure there are bright colors, interesting textures and musical features. Because sensory development is brain development, and it all takes place at playtime!
Balance: Balance Beams
When kids are standing high above the ground, balanced on a bar, they can’t help themselves. Their imaginations catch on fire! This is a scenario where pretend play kicks into high gear. They see themselves crossing a wide chasm on a rickety bridge. Or they see themselves “walking the plank” on a pirate ship.
These balance features also teach kids to take turns. They encourage body awareness and coordination, both of which result in better concentration back in the classroom.
Balancing also introduces mechanical principles and an understanding of physical forces such as gravity, equilibrium and counterbalances.
These elements of play help children develop physically. They also help in the areas of cognitive, adaptive, social, and emotional development. While we’ve always been proud of the work we do to keep children safe, we at No Fault are proud to also play a role in child development and helping awesome kids grow up to be awesome adults! Contact us today for more information on the right rubber safety surfacing to help keep your children safe on the playground.
School’s out, it’s hot, and unless there’s a family vacation or summer camp in the plans, summer means a lot of sitting around the house.
Getting kids to play outside during the summer can be a challenge. Face it—who can blame them for not wanting to get out of the air conditioning?
But playgrounds are just as important for kids this summer just as much as they are the rest of the year.
Here are a few suggestions to get your kids excited about heading to the playground instead of plopping down on the couch over the next couple of months.
- Get them to round up a few friends to come along. Structured games need a few others to join in, and unstructured play is always better with a large cast of characters. The more the merrier!
- Bring along healthy refreshments. Make an outing of it by packing a picnic with things like baby carrots, healthy snack bars, and fresh fruit.
- Bring things for the kids to enjoy in the shade. Break up the activity with cooldown time. Things like bubbles, sidewalk chalk, and art materials are great when a break is needed from climbing on playground equipment in the sun.
Find Playground and Parks Programs for Kids
For parents, summer camps can be budget breakers. That’s why many cities are offering free and low-cost alternative programs for children this summer. Many of them are happening at your local park or playground!
“Summer Playground Programs” around the country give kids a chance to participate in fun, supervised activities during the hot summer months.
Activities typically include:
- Board games
- Playground time (of course!)
- Arts and crafts
- Teamwork and character building
- Fitness and nutrition lessons
Many of these programs even have field trips that include activities such as fishing, swimming, movies, and museum visits.
Summer Playground Programs give kids an opportunity to make new friends, stay active, learn new things and get some exercise. Here are just a few of the cities hosting these activities.
Little Rock, AR
If you don’t see one near you, just Google “Summer Playground Programs” and you’re likely to find something.
Don’t Take Shortcuts on Safety
What’s another way to make the playground a part of this summer’s fun? Staying safe, of course!
Summer safety means staying hydrated, wearing sunscreen, and checking equipment before playtime to ensure that it’s free from damage and anything else that could be a hazard. For example, make sure there are no splinters on wooden equipment. Make sure the metal slides haven’t gotten too hot in the summer sun. If possible, schedule your playground visits for earlier in the day, before the equipment heats up.
Most importantly, make sure areas where kids are prone to falls are protected with the safety surface needed. No Fault Safety Surface, for example, is the perfect shock-absorbing cover to ensure safety around playground swings and climbing features, and No Fault Safety Surface for Water Play is ideal for splash pad surfaces, and pool decks.
Speaking of pools, if your kids’ summer routine includes splashing around, make sure you’re keeping the life jackets nearby, check the pool depth before allowing kids to dive, and make sure water play is supervised.
Why Playgrounds Were Made For Summer
During the school year, recess is the only time some kids get to spend on their local playground. But remember—unstructured play gives kids the space they need to really grow, to discover how fun life can be, and recharge before the next school year begins. This kind of learning doesn’t take a break just because school is out.
Your kids will look back on this summer for the rest of their lives. Without school, there is more time to build memories, to de-stress, and to play without “rules.” This time is important for them. They need to be able to make their own rules for a while, and playgrounds are the natural location for this kind of personal development.
Movies, TV, and video games are no match for a day of sunshine at the playground. When they’re playing, kids are using their bodies and their minds to learn and to grow. So don’t let the heat keep your kids indoors this summer!
No Fault’s slogan is “safe play means safe surfacing!” Contact us today to discuss our playground surfacing options which include poured-in-place rubber surface, rubber tiles, bonded and loose-fill rubber mulch, and synthetic play turf. Our No Fault team is ready to assist you!