On August 25-27, Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc on southeast Texas, causing historic flooding and leaving many areas in shambles. If your school, park, or neighborhood playground was affected by the flood, here are a few tips to help you bring the fun back while ensuring the safety of kids and families.
Inspect All Equipment
If your playground was submerged in flood waters — even just a few inches — it’s important that you inspect it carefully before allowing kids to play on it. Here are a few things to look out for:
- Water may be trapped in double-walled components like slides and climbers. If a piece of equipment is holding water, it needs to be drained before it’s safe to play on. Drill a small hole in a low, unused location (such as the very bottom of a slide) and allow the water to drain.
- Erosion may have occurred around the base of the equipment. As flood water drains, it can carry large amounts of soil with it, and erosion can make playground equipment unstable. If you notice significant erosion, keep the playground closed and contact the equipment manufacturer.
- Hardware such as nuts and bolts may have become compromised. The force of flood waters can loosen and even sweep away hardware elements. Inspect each piece of equipment carefully for loose or missing hardware, and tighten or replace as needed.
Clean It Up
Flood waters can contain numerous toxins, so playgrounds that have been exposed to flood waters must be thoroughly cleaned before they can be safely used. Pressure washers are a good choice for this task; just be careful with your pressure settings to avoid damaging the equipment.
Check Moving Parts
Moving equipment like merry-go-rounds can trap debris and sand in their internal mechanisms if they’re submerged in flood waters. Check each piece of equipment by moving it around a bit. If it doesn’t move normally, try flushing the moving parts with clean water. If that fixes the problem, let the equipment dry and then lubricate according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If the problem persists, contact the manufacturer.
Check Safety Surfacing
Pay special attention to your safety surfacing, as it’s the component most likely to suffer flood damage. Once you’ve removed any large debris such as branches and trash, inspect the area for missing, torn, or otherwise damaged surfacing. Different types of surfacing require different approaches to cleaning and restoration, so review your manufacturer’s recommendations, and contact them if you have questions.
You will need documentation for insurance claims and other purposes. Take photos and videos of any damage as soon as you notice it, and make a list of all actions taken, such as cleaning or replacement of components.
If you have any additional questions about restoring your playground after the flood, please feel free to call us at (713) 939-9888.