The summer break is almost over and late August is upon us. This can only mean one thing: the start of the school year is right around the corner!
Most back-to-school planning focuses on the classroom; however, it’s equally important to prepare the playground. Outdoor play areas provide children with crucial benefits to childhood development such as an ideal environment for exercise and exploration, socialization, and connection with nature, so we need to make sure they’re ready for action.
Here are a few ways to get your playground ready to ensure outdoor fun throughout the school year:
1. Check for defective equipment
Kids are usually excited to be back from vacation and to reunite with friends. We certainly wouldn’t want the year to start with the playground off-limits due to defective equipment. Be sure to repair any damage before school reopens.
2. Check safety surfacing
Inadequate playground safety surfacing is the number one cause of preventable playground injuries from falls. If you have wood fiber or rubber bark, ensure they are at an adequate level for the fall height of the structure. If you have rubber tile, ensure there are no gaps or tears in the material.
3. Check for loose hardware
Take a close look at all your playground equipment to make sure nothing has come loose since the last official inspection. Tighten any loose hardware to ensure the equipment functions correctly and does not pose any hazards.
4. Check for rust and rot
Always be on the lookout for rust on metal components and rotting of wooden equipment. Rust is normally not an issue when it first starts, but it can be a major problem later on. Take care of any kind of rot immediately, because unlike rust, rot creates an immediate safety hazard.
5. Make sure your fall zones are clear
Always double-check to see whether your fall zones are clear. Playgrounds that are not regularly inspected often end up having objects placed within the fall zones by kids during their play time. These objects pose a safety hazard, especially at the bottom of slides and underneath climbing equipment and swings.
And of course, always ensure that kids are supervised on play equipment by trained staff to minimize the risk of injuries. Here’s to a fun — and safe — school year for all!
If your organization is looking to save money on your recreational space, the lure of used playground equipment is tough to resist. Do a quick search and you’ll find any number of offers for “lightly used” playground equipment that looks as good as new but costs much less. What could go wrong?
Plenty, as it turns out. While you could save yourself a few dollars up front by buying used versus new, you could also be buying numerous problems down the road.
1. No Warranty
Regardless of the age of the equipment, warranties cannot be transferred from owner to owner. If any previous use caused subtle damage to the equipment — such as hairline cracks or weakened joints — that later require repairs, you’ll be on the hook for the costs.
2. Problems with Replacement Parts
If future repairs require replacement parts, they may not be available from the manufacturer. Replacement parts carry their own warranties, and the manufacturer may not be willing to sell you a warrantied part for equipment that’s out of warranty due to the change in ownership. If the equipment is considerably older, the manufacturer may no longer even be in business.
3. Wear and Tear
Remember that this is a long-term investment, and there’s no way to know for sure whether the previous owner kept up with routine maintenance. And even well-maintained equipment from reputable manufacturers deteriorates over time, so you won’t get as many years’ use out of used equipment as you will with new.
4. Relocation Stress
Moving playground equipment from one place to another can stress the equipment and lead to broken or lost parts, and you may not be able to obtain replacements (see #2).
5. Safety Risks
The used equipment may have been built according to safety regulations that are now outdated, and the cost of bringing it up to code — if that’s even possible — can negate any savings you may have expected in the deal.
When you’re looking to purchase playground equipment, it’s important to consider all the costs — not just the purchase price, but future costs as well. In most cases, the future costs of owning used equipment will negate any up-front savings you may see today, so buying new is the safer choice.