Playgrounds can be extremely fun places for children to be.
Not only will they enjoy using the equipment and playing with their friends, but it’s also great exercise and might even lead to the holy grail of parenting: your children having a better night’s sleep!
But it’s also important that their safety is taken into account every step of the way.
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From the planning and construction of the playground itself to tips for parents who will want to ensure the safety of their children whilst they play, in this collaborative post here are a few hints and tips as to how you can:
- Make your playground as safe as possible if you’re planning or building one
- How to keep your children safe when utilising the playground
A complete guide to playground safety for parents
How can I make my playground safe to use?
If you’re looking at building your own playground or if you’ve been asked to construct one on behalf of another company, there are a few things you’ll need to think about regarding the safety of the children who will use it.
Make sure it has the right surfacing down
The days of building playgrounds on concrete, tarmac and even bark are over. The aforementioned materials caused many children to suffer with terrible injuries over the years, from cuts and scrapes to broken limbs, so it’s no wonder that playgrounds are no longer built on such harsh terrain.
These days, spongy material is laid to ensure children are kept safe and injury-free should they trip, slip or fall for any reason. Not only does this protect the children from harm, but it gives the parents added peace of mind.
There’s a wide range of different safety surfaces you can choose from when constructing your playground. PlayEquip, the experts in playground equipment construction and materials, are able to provide playground developers and builders with safety surfacing that’ll keep little ones out of harm’s way should they take a tumble, including:
- Playground grass mats – perfect for more eco-friendly playground designs and to give a softer, greener look to the grounds as a whole. It’s both simple to install and can be cut to fit any area of any shape and/or size
- Rubber mulch – a durable, low maintenance option, rubber mulch offers a natural look and soft landings. Easily mistaken for bark, this also gives a traditional, yet safer, feel to the playground you’re constructing
- Wetpour – a robust playground surfacing material, wetpour can be used to breathe new life into older playgrounds in need of restoration as well as add a pop of colour and character to a new playground under construction
Choose equipment that’s age-appropriate
When it comes to planning the construction of your playground, it’s important that you consider the age group that are going to use it. Aiming a playground at a certain age will help you to determine the equipment you need as it will have to be age-appropriate. For example, a playground aimed at young children, between three and six for example, would not contain monkey bars or trapeze ropes.
However, monkey bars and trapeze ropes, both of which are available from PlayEquip, would be better placed in a playground meant for older children, perhaps from the age of nine or 10. Smaller children would be far safer on slides, playground swings or in sandpits and water play areas.
If you’re in need of a bespoke playground, then PlayEquip will be able to help. From parks and schools to architects and outdoor gyms, the experts at PlayEquip will be able to provide you with everything you need to make your playground stand out from the crowd whilst still being as safe as possible for those who use it.
Have areas where softer materials are used to play in
Sandpits and water play areas are ideal for creating a safe environment in which children can play in. That, coupled with safety surfacing, makes for a playground that every parent would be happy to bring their children to.
Playground trampolines are also a popular option these days. Sunk into the ground so that children can’t fall from any height, softly-sprung trampolines are ideal for those wanting to make a safe, yet fun and engaging, playground for children of any age to enjoy.
Make sure paddling pools or water play areas have railing and gates around them
It’s imperative that areas which contain any body of water, however deep or shallow, have railings around the perimeter and are gated off. This is to ensure that children cannot simply wander over unsupervised and, possibly, fall in. There should also be signs warning parents that water is nearby and not to leave their children unsupervised at any time.
How can I keep my children safe when at the playground?
When looking for a playground where your children can play, it’s always important to choose one that you believe is safe for them. But how, exactly, can you determine which playgrounds are safe for your children and which are not?
Survey the playground & determine if it’s safe to use
There are several factors to determine whether or not a playground is safe for your child to play in before even stepping foot inside the playground. You should first look at the terrain. If it’s made from concrete, tarmac or roughly-cut gravel, for example, then it’s probably best to move on and find a playground that has been surfaced with safer, more shock-absorbing materials, such as:
You should also look for any trip hazards, including loose stepping stones or slabs, large rocks that are out of place or tree roots that are sticking up out of the ground. You should also check that any water areas are gated off and are separated from the rest of the playground by way of railings.
It’s also important that you check for other types of hazards that could be in the vicinity of the playground or that are present on playground equipment such as:
- Broken glass
- Loose or missing screws and bolts on playground equipment
- Signs of broken or damaged playground equipment
- Evidence of rust or corrosion on playground equipment
- That railings are in place on platforms and slides
Make sure they’re playing on equipment that’s right for their age
A point that’s already been touched upon, but it’s imperative that you’re allowing your children to play on equipment that’s right for their age. Younger children should be playing on slides, swings and other playground extras, such as seesaws, trampolines and even musical instruments, all of which are available from PlayEquip. Older children will have the freedom to play on the monkey bars, large slides and a wide range of different climbing frames.
Supervise them at all times, especially around water play areas
No matter how old your children are or how many times you’ve been to the same playground, you need to supervise your children at all times whilst they’re playing. Not only is this needed to avoid your children from coming to any harm, but it will also prevent child abductions – something every parent will always want to protect against.
Ensure they’re dressed to play, taking into account the weather
Children need stretchy clothing when at the playground. You should completely avoid putting them in loose-fitting garments as they could get trapped in equipment and other aspects of the playground. You should also make sure they’re wearing clothing that covers their arms and legs to help avoid cuts, scrapes and grazes if they do fall over.
Covering their skin with stretchy clothing also helps to keep the wind and sun off them, although you should still make sure you’re applying sun lotion to them, even if the weather remains cold but sunny.
If you’ve brought your children to the playground on a particularly hot, sunny day, then keeping their arms and legs covered will also help to prevent your children from burning themselves on hot, metal equipment. However, you won’t have to worry about this with PlayEquip as the majority of the playground equipment they supply is made from sustainable wood.
If, however, the weather is cold, then make sure they’re wrapped up warm, but avoid putting them in scarves as they could become a strangulation risk if caught in any equipment. With this in mind, you should also ensure your child isn’t wearing the following things:
- School ties
You should also refrain from putting them in certain types of footwear. Make sure they’re wearing trainers with some grip and that are fastened using velcro strips as opposed to shoe laces as they could pose a trip hazard. You should also refrain from letting your children play in sandals or flip flops, together with any shoes that are open-toed or tied with laces.
Communicate with your children before, during & after their playground session
It’s important that you make your child aware that you’re around. Before you get to the playground, make it clear that they’re there to play and enjoy themselves. You should also make sure they know where you’re going to be and that you’ll always be nearby. You should also discuss potential dangers and what to do should any of them occur.
You should also tell them how to keep themselves safe whilst walking around the playground, such as walking by swings at a distance and the importance of holding onto handrails and restraints. Encourage good manners also and ensure they know how to share and play well with others.
During your visit to the playground, stay where your children can see you and don’t become too distracted by talking to other parents, for example. Make it clear that they can come to you at any time, no matter what they need.
After the playground session, on your way home, discuss what happened at the playground, talking about the good things that happened and why they should be seen as positive. You should also discuss the negative things, if any occurred, and explain why what happened was bad and how to prevent it in the future. Communication is key to safe playground use, regardless of how old your children are.
PlayEquip are highly-experienced in the playground equipment industry. Whether you’re building your own playground in your back garden for domestic needs, require a re-model of your school playground or simply wish to design and construct a bespoke playground, then the professionals at PlayEquip can always be counted upon to help. For more information about the playground products PlayEquip has available, get in touch with a member of their friendly, knowledgeable team today – they’re always happy to hear from you.
This is a collaborative post.