Is Poured-in-Place Rubber Safety Surfacing Actually Safe?

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.

Conclusion

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.

Designing a Playground for Children Who Are Blind

The Chicago Lighthouse is a world-renowned social service organization that serves the blind, visually impaired, disabled, and veteran communities. The Chicago Lighthouse wanted a safe, resilient, durable surface for their children’s solarium/play area, which was especially designed to accommodate youngsters who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise disabled. They chose our No Fault Safety Tiles that are perfect to use for both indoor and outdoor play areas.

We’ve written before about the importance of accessible and inclusive playground design.  Today we’re going to discuss the importance of including children who are blind or visually impaired in your plans to build a better playground.

Playground planners who want to consider the needs of visually impaired kids don’t often know where to start. They don’t know how to make the play experience open to everyone. All too often, they assume it will require expensive specialized equipment or that accommodations will somehow exclude kids who aren’t vision impaired.

On the other hand, when playground designers adhere too strictly to the minimum requirements put forth by proponents of inclusive play, they may forget to emphasize the things that make great playground experiences to begin with – namely, that they be engaging, stimulating, and fun for all children.

There’s no doubt that you can create challenging and creative playscapes that are accessible to children with disabilities (including the vision-impaired). You’ll also find that doing so isn’t incompatible with goals to create opportunities for play that benefit children of all abilities.

What’s at Stake?

For all children, playtime is crucial for the development of motor, social, and language skills. It’s also an important driver of good fitness habits early in life. Too often, kids who are visually impaired do not experience the same opportunities for recreation enjoyed by their sighted peers.

Here are a few pointers to turn that trend around on your playground.

  1. Make play “hands-on.” Remember, blind and partially sighted kids “see” with their hands. Tactile elements will help the child get a sense of “place.” For example, one mom incorporates braille signs on her sons’ playground equipment. Consider using grooved surfacing to help kids find their way around. Rubber timbers with rounded tops can provide extra safety and path-marking.
  2. Set boundaries. Make sure the perimeters of the playground are easy to find. It’s a good idea to have the entire playground area “fenced in” for safety reasons. However, some blind children like to “trail” along the inside of a fence, too. So here you have an opportunity to “dress up” the inside of the fence with things for them to explore through touch.
  3. Make the ground “speak.” No matter the age or ability of the children at your playground, it’s always smart to have No Fault Safety Surface underfoot to protect kids from falls – especially under areas where there are potential fall hazards. However, delineating certain areas of play with different surface types could also serve to indicate where certain play opportunities (and risks) can be found. For example, the area around a swing set could have a different material in the area where kids need to be careful to avoid a collision. For blind children, that detectable change in ground surfacing material would serve as their “cue” that kids are swinging nearby. This lets them know to be careful and stay “on the lookout!”
  4. Incorporate sound. Remember: Great playground design appeals to all of a child’s senses. Musical instruments and other auditory stimuli are an excellent idea for an accessible playground. These days you can get beeper balls, balls with bells, goal locators with sound, and other adapted play equipment that can make playground time more accessible to children with visual impairments. If that’s beyond your budget, permanently installed, percussive musical instruments can mount onto existing play structures. Not only are they fun to play, but their locations can also create audible landmarks for kids as they familiarize themselves or travel from one play area to the next.
  5. Use visual clues. Don’t forget to accommodate vision-impaired children who have some ability to see. For example, bright yellow tape might clearly mark the edges of steps and anywhere else a child can accidentally step off. You may also consider painting playground equipment in bright colors that make it easier for kids with low vision to identify from a distance.
  6. Buddy up! When it comes to more risky play (such as running), blind kids can partner with a sighted “buddy” to guide them safely on the way. For more independent runs, some schools use a guide wire or rope system (in which a child is tethered to a guiding line). A stationary noise at the “finish line” can help kids orient themselves and give them something to run toward.

The barriers that children with disabilities are confronted with daily should not prevent them from engaging in playground activities. Schools and local communities are responsible for making play areas available to all – doing so may simply require some creativity and community input. No Fault Sport Group can help you create an inclusive play area that emphasizes safety, inclusion and value. Please contact No Fault Sport Group today, and let us know you read our blog!

No Fault Project Spotlight – Give Kids The World Village, Kissimmee, Florida

No Fault Safety Surface installed at Fairy Tale Lane at Give Kids The World in Kissimmee, Florida

Give Kids The World Village is a HUGE blessing to kids all throughout the world!  Their facility is an 84-acre, nonprofit resort located in Kissimmee, Florida that provides week-long, cost free vacations to children with life threatening illnesses and their families.  Give Kids The World Village contains 168 villa accommodations, as well as magical, whimsical park attractions and entertainment for young children.  They have welcomed more than 154,000 families from all 50 states and 76 counties since 1986!

They contacted No Fault for a “custom design” for the pathway areas to-and-around their playground at Fairy Tale Lane.  They wanted the pathways to look like the game board of the popular children’s game called “Candy Land”.  No Fault installed over 3,000 square feet of No Fault Safety Surface (poured-in-place rubber) for this project, and as you can see, the results are fabulous!

 

Mr. Michael Bausman, Director of Facilities Resources with Give Kids The World, had the following to say about No Fault and our work, “We absolutely love the new surface!  The colors are so bright and vibrant, and are certain to add to the enjoyment of our families for years to come.

No Fault has always been a great partner of Give Kids The World Village, and has helped us keep our families safe for more than 20 years now!  The staff they send out is always top notch and go out of their way to make sure we are happy with the finished product.  We look forward to using their services for many years to come!  Thanks again for all you do to help make a difference and brighten the lives of the special families that visit Give Kids The World!”

  

Our No Fault Safety Surface comes in an array of beautiful colors and can accommodate inlaid designs to create a theme that will delight children of all ages.  Please contact No Fault Sport Group today at 1-800-232-7766 so we can assist you with your next playground project!

Trike Paths Give Kids Safe Avenue to Explore

Tricycles are a great way for toddlers to explore the world around them. However, neighborhood sidewalks aren’t usually the safest place for small kids and their tricycles. Driveways in front of our homes don’t often give kids enough space to discover either.

Even if you are lucky enough to have sidewalks and driveways that are relatively obstacle-free and spacious, the harsh concrete surfaces inevitably lead to scraped knees, painful “road rashes”, and bruised egos.

Kids need a safe place to learn the “rules of the road.” Bike playgrounds have been popular in Europe for years and are becoming more and more common here in the States. But what about something for younger kids on tricycles? Don’t forget to include them when you’re planning a playground, park, or play area.

Kids on three wheels need their own space to learn how to ride. They need a designated space where parents can keep an eye on them while they explore, build self-confidence, and work off some of their seemingly inexhaustible reservoirs of energy.

No Fault Safety Surfacing for Trike Paths

No Fault Sport Group has durable, cushioned, permeable, slip-resistant poured-in-place (PIP) rubber surfacing that is ideal for city parks and school playgrounds. Playground designers love to use it for trike paths around play areas. These tracks typically are a simple PIP pathway colored differently from the surrounding surfacing material. They give kids an easy-to-follow “road” that keeps them from running into the other children on nearby playground equipment.

Our No Fault Safety Surface is a seamless “unitary” surfacing that is ADA accessible. Tricycles can move easily over the surface, unlike with gravel, sand, or mulch. Because it is a unitary surface, PIP does not move or shift around.

No Fault Safety Surface also comes in different thicknesses, depending on the maximum critical fall height you need. This gives you the utmost safety for all the kids you are responsible for.

Cleanup usually takes little more than a leaf blower, though an occasional hose-down will keep it looking good as new. Our safety surfacing even gives you a wide range of color, design, and theme options.

See No Fault Trike Paths In Action!

Ready to see the trike paths we’ve built? No Fault Sport Group teamed up with Allplay Systems to create a beautiful “natural forest” themed playground in Tulalip, Washington. This unique playground features a tree fort, trike paths, wood cabins, stepping stones, hollow “logs”, and animal benches.

We installed more than 21,000 square feet of No Fault Safety Surface in green, tan, and blue (representing soil, grass, trees, and flowing rivers). We typically install our PIP rubber surface in colored “rings” around the playground equipment area–still on the playground but in a space designated for little tykes on their little trikes.

No Fault Safety Surface including trike path at the Tulalip Early Learning Academy in Tulalip, WA

For another project, No Fault Sport Group and All Inclusive Rec teamed up to install 4,000 square feet of No Fault Safety Surface at The Jackie Joyner Kersee Center in East St. Louis, Illinois. Stunning shades of green, tan, and blue were matched with the Little Tikes play equipment. Colorful Olympic rings were incorporated into the rubber surfacing along with a trike path (the blue ring around the larger play structure in the photo below).

No Fault Safety Surface including trike path at The Jackie Joyner Kersee Center in East St. Louis, IL

Whether you’re planning a playground, jogging track, or trike path, No Fault offers coast-to-coast installation service to give you reliable quality. You can be sure our poured-in-place rubber surfacing will be versatile, durable, and attractive for years to come. The staff at No Fault would like to help you incorporate a trike path into your next project; contact us today and let’s talk!