Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from November, 2009

Profit Motive Scales Down Today’s Playground Equipment

Safety and design experts had a lot to say about the latest generation of playground equipment at a recent National Recreation and Parks (NRPA) trade show in Salt Lake City. A common observation was that manufacturers not only are cutting back by using cheaper materials, but they also are reducing the overall size of products such as slides and climbing structures.

This is being done simply to reduce overhead costs, instead of providing playgrounds with the best possible products. The unfortunate end result here is a less exciting and enjoyable playground experience for today’s generation of youngsters, who as it is spend far too much time indoors in front of screens within walking distance of the refrigerator. With the considerable rise in childhood obesity and health problems compared to generations past, playground activities and equipment should be as fun as appealing ever, not scaled down and cut back.

Sure, today’s playground gear may be softer and significantly safer, but can…

Surfacing Products Wear Out Quickly, Fail Safety Tests & The "Low-Bidder"

There’s this unfortunate "low bidder" mentality in the playground equipment and surfacing industry. Far too often, manufacturers cut corners and don’t deliver quality, lasting products, especially surfacing materials.

Simply put, many surfacing companies do not use the highest quality polyurethanes in rubber-based materials. So for example, the result is that the top layer of an EPDM surface, which is supposed to be 3/8 of an inch in thickness, ends up at 1/4-inch after only about a year. This will downgrade the surface’s ability to cut down the force of impact if a child falls, an obvious safety concern.

Similar corner-cutting also goes on with construction contractors who lay playground foundations and equipment footings, which aren’t poured according to specification requirements with a minimal amount of concrete. This results in unstable playground equipment after not much time in use.

SBR tiles are another extremely noticeable example of the “low bidder” phenomenon. S…

Clothing and Sun Exposure: Important Keys to Safe Outdoor Activities

Sensible clothing is an essential part of playground safety. Bare feet are always a no-no, as is extensive sun exposure.

Toward limiting sun exposure, the National Program for Playground Safety advises parents and child care providers to avoid scheduling outdoor activities during hours of peak sun intensity, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. standard time. “If outdoor activities during these peak times are unavoidable, encourage the use of protective clothing and sunglasses, suggest playing in shaded areas, and, of course, always use sunscreen,” the organization states on its website.

The NPPS also supplies a “Quick Tips” list:

• Monitor the daily UV Index forecasts for your area (go to www.epa.gov or look in newspapers) and plan indoor activities on days of high sun intensity.

• Teach children how to identify and find good sources of shade.

• Keep infants and small children in the shade when outdoors.

• Plan trips to parks and places where adequate shade is available.

• Plant trees that provide max…