Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Safety Checklist: Public and Private Playgrounds

 Crabapple LandscapEXPERTS assist many clients with playgrounds and recreational areas on their properties. The current epidemic of childhood obesity calls for creative approaches to the problem, and outdoor play is a great idea. 

Plastic structure under tarp
We help them comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Guidelines for playground accessibility and compliance to ensure that all children get an equal opportunity to participate in the play experience. According to the guidelines, half of the playground's elevated components must be accessible by a ramp, and for every elevated part of the playground, there must be a corresponding number of ground level structures for a wide variety of play experiences.  

Another aspect of playgrounds includes voluntary standards organized by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). Based on these two exemplary organizations, Crabapple can provide great support to property managers and Homeowners Association Reps. 

Safety Checklist for Private and Public Playgrounds 
  • We ensure that play structures more than 30 inches high are spaced at least 9 feet apart. 
  • We check for dangerous hardware and verify that all bolts are present, that they remain tight, and that there are no more than 2 threads protruding outward. 
  • If the play surface is made from loose fill, we make sure the surfaces around the playground equipment have at least 1 inch of wood chips, mulch, sand or pea gravel per foot of play structure height.  (For more about play surfaces, see last week's Blog.)
  •  If the surface is synthetic (for example, rubber mats or poured-in-place rubber surface), we visually inspect the surface for unusual wear patterns. 
  • We check that the safety surface extends at least 6 feet in all directions beyond the play equipment. For swings, the rule is that the safety surface extend twice the height of the top beam, both in front of the swings and behind them. 
  • Crabapple examines swing set hardware for wear. We verify that all "S" hooks remain closed (a dime should not be able to pass through the openings). Worn swing seats can cause injuries or ripped clothing. We check swing seats for wear or cracking and verify that the ends have no excessive wear. 
  • Spaces that can entrap children are tightened up, such as openings in guardrails or between rung ladders that measure less than 3.5 inches or greater than 9 inches. 
  • Sharp points or edges on all play equipment are eliminated. 
  • We look out for tripping hazards, like exposed concrete footings, tree stumps and rocks. 
  • Crabapple makes sure that all elevated surfaces, like platforms and ramps, have guardrails to prevent falls. 
  • We provide suggestions that all children be properly supervised while using the playground and that inappropriate play be discouraged. 
  • We schedule a safety check with property managers and HOA Reps at least once a year.
Schedule your annual safety check today by asking your Crabapple Rep or calling 770-740-0739.  

 photos thanks to Wiki Commons

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