How to protect our precious investments- people, place and play.
IS YOUR FAVORITE PLAYGROUND SAFE? In our conversations with parents over the last 10 years we’ve found, aside from some of the new-age looking equipment looking “unsafe or scary”, most assume their favorite playground is safe and maintained. That is until it starts showing signs of obvious wear or broken parts.
Have you ever inquired when the last time your childs’ favorite playground was professionally inspected and what the inspection entailed? Mind you, this is not about being nosy or pushy, it’s about keeping children safe and playground manager/owners accountable.
The most common reasons places like private residents, childcare facilities, public schools have infrequent or inadequately inspected equipment and play spaces are lack of qualified staff and/or finances. That said, there are affordable and reasonable steps ANY facility can take to assure a child’s outdoor play-space remains safe and in good repair.
FIRST- If a playground or playspace looks unkept or showing signs of needed repair, document and report your concerns to the managing entity. This purely informative measure is to alert those who manage this space that there’s a concern and possibly need for repair. It is important to not assume someone else has done this. In fact, if they have, then even better, management will hear from multiple members of the public.
SECOND- Follow up. Have repairs or decommission of equipment been done? If not, what’s the plan? Inquire how you or a group of fellow parents could help make the beloved play space safer? If there’s interest, create a work day or even a fundraising event (in-person or online) to get the space professionally inspected and renovated as needed. The social efforts help build awareness AND build community engagement. Both are crucial for sustainable playspace development and maintenance.
LASTLY- Celebrate and thank those who dedicate their profession and efforts to providing fun, safe playspaces for children.
IF YOU ARE THE OWNER OR MANAGER of an outdoor playspace, here’s how you can help assure your playspace remains safe:
1. Have it inspected by a CPSI (certified Playground Safety Inspector) and/or….
2. Visit NRPA to find sample inspection forms and guidelines for nationally recognized safety standards.
3. Establish a database of existing equipment, w/ dates of: purchase, installation, inspections, and notes on repairs, future needs, concerns, noting who will address this by when and date completed.
4. Make repeated inspections and reporting a priority Depending on frequency of use, these may occur weekly, monthly, 1/4ly. Include equipment, fencing, surfacing, furniture.
5. Report and/or mediate issues of immediate concern.
6. Follow-up to make sure # 5 above is done.
7. Install all future play features and surfacing to CPSC standards. (for those of you space limited- see our upcoming post on How to Make The Best With Less!)
Have fun and play frequently!