Summer is one of the best times to focus on your playground and ensure it ticks every necessary box. Whilst you have an empty playground, this means you have the time and space to carry out inspections, repairs, and any replacements needed. In this week’s blog, PlaySmart walk you through our 5 top tips for ensuring your playground is ready for the next school year and beyond.
1: Thoroughly inspect your equipment and surfacing
If your playground belongs to a school, you can benefit from its emptiness during school holidays to carry out exhaustive inspections. Fear not, however, if your playground is in a public space; you can arrange to carry out inspections between opening hours. By identifying any equipment or sections of surfacing that could do with some TLC, you can ensure your playground is back up to scratch and safe for children to use. Here are some signs to look out for:
- Signs of rust on play equipment. Rust can severely reduce a product’s lifespan by weakening the material to the point it can no longer support the weight or usage it was designed for. To prevent any risk of harm to children, you should keep an eye out for any signs of rust across your equipment so you can carry out necessary repairs or replacements.
- Playground safety flooring peeling or cracking. This is usually a predecessor of further damage, and should be repaired or replaced before safety becomes compromised.
2: Arrange any repairs or replacements in good time
Small repairs can very quickly become bigger issues and compromise the safety of the children using the playground. For example, a slightly loose bolt can wear down and cause a larger safety issue down the side. You should partake in very thorough inspections of every potential area of risk in your playground, in order to catch out anything that can be easily dealt with before it becomes a bigger issue.
3: Plan any upgrades or additions
If your equipment or playground surfaces are ready for an upgrade, summer is the perfect time to do it. The six week holidays provide an uninterrupted stretch of time for you to remove, install or repair anything you think needs an upgrade. This could be due to the product approaching the end of its lifespan, needing to replace a certain section of your play area flooring, or even just being more creative and looking to add exciting new play equipment and surfacing to make your playground look more appealing.
If your playground is in a public area or park, we appreciate it might be trickier to do this as it will be busy with all the children who are off school! However, if you draw up your plans ahead of time, work can begin either after hours, or you can close the park to the general public for a day or two whilst work is carried out.
4: Focus on your safety surfacing
As mentioned when we touched on inspection, ensuring your safety surface is consistently up to scratch is a big part of playground safety. With sub-standard surfacing, or small faults developing, these could all develop into a bigger – and more expensive to resolve – issue. As your resident safety surfacing expert, PlaySmart have some things to look out for:
- Cracking or peeling. More likely in wet-pour based surfaces, you should keep an eye out for any small cracks in your surfacing. With being exposed to a variety of weather conditions and consistent footfall, this can wear down your surface much faster and create a larger-scale damage.
- Product breakdown. Commonly found with loose-fill materials such as wood or rubber chips, this material can disperse and break down over time. If you notice the levels of your loose-fill getting a little lower, it’s a good idea to invest in some more to top up your surfacing.
- Small damages. Even the tiniest of issues can mount up to become larger problems, if not dealt with in the right amount of time. Keep an eye on your surfaces – for example, artificial grass can lift away from the edges if not properly installed, or incur small burns or rips depending on how heavily it is used. By fixing problems as soon as you spot them, you can save them turning into bigger – and more expensive – fixes.
5: Get ready for the next school year
If you’ve checked everything off of our list so far, you should almost be good to go for the next school year! The most important part is being ready for the next school year, so you can welcome back pupils to a safe and fully functional playground. If you’ve carried out full inspections, completed any repairs and replacements, and upgraded any equipment you felt ready to change, then you will have a playground ready for another year of fun and laughter!