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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. Photos courtesy of BCI Burke

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.
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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 no play barefooted, but they do tumble to the ground sometimes, and the play surfaces and certain equipment can be blistering hot.

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.






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.


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


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December 7, 2019, 3:33 am PDT

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