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Playground & Safety News

Compiled by Editor Stephen Kelly






Separate play areas should be designed for pre-schoolers (ages 2-5) and children ages 5-12. Be sure children play on the equipment designated for their age.
Photo: BCI Burke: Intensity components


Summer Play

For kids, summer is still the best time of year. "No more teachers, no more books..." etc. For those youngsters who play outdoors--yes, some young people do on occasion venture away from the computer--playgrounds are a good place to hang out with friends, especially when they know a recess bell isn't going to ring and signal them back into a classroom. Of course there are some kids in summer school or those participating in organized recreational activities that are also using playgrounds in the hot months.

Playground supervisors or other adults at playgrounds need not only keep an eye on the children, but be alert to hot-to-the-touch play equipment and surfaces. Each summer we hear the same stories: children blistering their feet or other exposed skin areas on hot playground surfaces or equipment. Kids, of course, should not play barefooted, but they do tumble to the ground sometimes, and the play surfaces and certain equipment can be blistering hot.






The National Program for Playground Safety offers a SAFE Playground Supervision Kit to help supervisors understand and learn the techniques of safe supervision. The kit includes a training manual, DVD and a supervision fanny pack. BCI Burke is offering the NPPS Playground Supervision Kit free of charge to its customers.
Photo: BCI Burke: "Deck-to-Deck."


The easiest and most practical solution to keeping everything and everyone cooler, while protecting delicate skins from harmful rays, is to specify shade structures. Unfortunately, many cities and schools may not have extra funds for that amenity.

BCI Burke of Fond du Lac, Wis., has some general suggestions for adults about summer fun on the playground and some basic safety tips:

  • Put your hand on parts of the playground that the children's bare skin might touch. If it is hot to the touch, do not let the kids play on those areas.
  • Choose a cooler part of the day to play. Apply sunscreen to protect children's skin.
  • As a rough rule of thumb, surfacing around play structures should be at least 12 inches deep, consisting of either loose fill surfacing such as pea gravel, mulch, sand or wood chips, or one of a variety of rubber products available. It is strongly recommended to consult with a certified playground installer or playground manufacturer to ensure all safety guidelines, including exact depth of surfacing materials, are followed.
  • Never attach ropes, jump ropes, clotheslines, or pet leashes to the equipment. These present serious strangulation hazards to children.
  • Watch for broken parts, rust, protruding hardware, sharp edges, or other disrepair. Bring maintenance and safety concerns to the attention of the appropriate person immediately.
  • Ensure debris and litter is picked up to prevent tripping hazards and health issues. (Editor's note: One sandy playground area in the park where my kids used to play was a favorite place for some JDs to break beer bottles on the nearby concrete. All sizes and shapes of sharp-edged glass was often scattered about in the playground sand.)
  • Due to the differing capabilities and needs of children, separate play areas should be provided for pre-schoolers (ages 2-5) and children ages 5-12. Be sure children play on the equipment designated for their age.
  • Look for signage on playgrounds that informs parents/ supervisors which structures are appropriate for the age of the children in their care, and remind them of supervision requirements.
  • Interact with children at play. They take pride in showing adults what they can do. This also allows for better attention to safety.

The National Program for Playground Safety (NPPS) suggests children follow these safety tips:

  • Never play on playgrounds with loose clothing or drawstrings.
  • Remove bike helmets while playing.
  • Bring an adult with you.
  • Only play on equipment with soft surfacing underneath.
  • Pick up trash in and around the playground.
  • Tell an adult if any equipment is broken, and do not play on it until it is fixed.
  • When playing on swings be sure to sit down at all times, slow down before getting off, and do not walk near someone who is swinging.
  • Play on dry equipment only.
  • Beware of hot surfaces that can burn skin on sunny days.

To emphasize safety and fun, NPPS offers a SAFE Playground Supervision Kit to help supervisors understand and learn the techniques of safe supervision. The kit includes a training manual, DVD and a supervision fanny pack. BCI Burke is offering the NPPS Playground Supervision Kit free of charge to its customers.

"Unfortunately, the lack of adult supervision is a major problem on playgrounds," says Tim Ahern, CEO/owner of BCI Burke. "We ensure our products are safe, however, once they are put in the ground, adults need to educate themselves and kids on safe play practices. The NPPS kit is a great tool for making this job much easier."

For more information, visit www.bciburke.com and uni.edu/playground.











The first safety concern for a flooded playground is to keep children out of the playground until it is dry and decontaminated. Fencing like this, however, isn't going to keep an adventurous child out. When the stormwater runoff recedes, the concern is for such contaminates as e-coli and other bacteria, viruses and toxic chemicals.


Water-Saturated Playgrounds

The heavy spring rains and flooding in a number of states, especially in the Midwest, turned many playgrounds in parks, schools and childcare centers into ad hoc "splash pads."

The first safety concern was, of course, was putting fencing or barriers up to keep children away from flooded playgrounds. When the waters began to recede, the National Program for Playground Safety (NPPS) suggested signage to warn of contaminated surfacing and equipment from stormwater runoff. The presence of e-coli and other bacteria, viruses and toxic chemicals are all concerns.

If the playground surfacing was loose fill materials (wood, rubber chips, sand or pea gravel), it will be important to be sure the surfacing is removed. Mold and bacteria can easily develop within organic (wood products) loose fill surfacing. Local landfill authorities should be consulted for disposal options.

Solid surfacing such as poured-in-place or rubber tiles need to be power-washed to remove possible contaminates. If the unitary surface or tiles have become loose during a flood, it may be necessary to replace the playground area with new surfacing.

Once the playground is dry, the NPPS recommends all the equipment and surfaces be sprayed with a 1:100 dilution of chlorine bleach and allowed to dry with a water rinse in 24 hours. The chlorine bleach wash is important as the hepatitis.

A virus can remain on surfaces for up to four to nine days without a bleach wash. New mulch in the disinfected playground area can then be placed.

For questions about the safety of the surfacing or equipment, the local health department is a good source.

(Note: Catherine Zeman, PhD, associate professor in HPELS, at UNI gave technical assistance to NPPS regarding playground contamination.)











PlayCore, Inc.'s commercial brands are GameTime and Play and Park Structures.
Photo: GameTime's Xscape 2.0.


PlayCore, Inc. Acquires Ultra Play Systems, Inc.

Chattanooga, Tenn. based PlayCore, Inc., a designer, manufacturer, and marketer of a broad range of playground equipment and related play products, announced June 30, 2008 the acquisition of Ultra Play Systems, Inc.

For more than 20 years, Ultra Play, based in Red Bud, Ill., has been in the business of manufacturing and supplying playground equipment (swings, climbers, merry-go-rounds, slides, see saws, tunnels, sandboxes) park amenities (metal bicycle racks, flag poles, picnic tables, grills, bleachers) and outdoor athletic equipment. Ultra Play is also known for its thermoplastic-coated steel furniture and site amenities.

PlayCore, Inc.'s commercial brands are GameTime and Play and Park Structures. Its consumer brands are Swing-N-Slide Tot Turf. Robert Farnsworth is president and CEO of PlayCore.

Ultra Play Systems, Inc. will be an operating division of PlayCore in Red Bud, Ill., and Mike Moll will continue to serve as Ultra Play's GM.

For more info, visit www.playcore.com.











Playworld Systems' NEOS game was a finalist in the 2008 International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA).


Playworld Systems Inc. Receives International Design Excellence Awards Recognition

Playworld Systems' NEOS electronic playground game was a finalist in the 2008 International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA) in the leisure and recreation category.

The awards, hosted by IDEA and BusinessWeek, honor design excellence for a variety of products. This year there were 27 product categories and 1,517 product entries submitted from 25 countries. Playworld Systems was named one of 389 finalists (all categories combined).

"NEOS has been very well received and a successful new product for Playworld Systems since its launch," said Matt Miller, president of Playworld Systems, Inc.

Gold awards went to 35 products; 77 received silver awards and 93 won bronze awards. The gold award in the leisure and recreation category went to SylvanSport GO--mobile adventure gear--that is a "three-in-one towable vehicle that morphs from a compact, traveling profile to a ... to a spacious and comfortable camping configuration."






LASN editors (not pictured) tired out NEOS at the ASLA Expo in San Francisco. There are nine games with various difficulty levels and real-time scoring displayed. Each button has an associated light and speaker. One to four people can play.


NEOS brings electronic gaming to outdoor play space with four towers of interactive sound and buttons that light up in random sequence depending on game selection. NEOS sports nine different games and three skill levels. Players compete for points, which are electronically recorded during play.

Playworld Systems is a manufacturer of customized recreation equipment and is headquarted in Lewisburg, Pa.

Visit idsa.org for more about the product awards.







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December 8, 2019, 8:19 am PDT

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