Playground Safety Considerations
With certain gathering restrictions being lifted and the school year coming to a close for many, playgrounds are bound to be visited and enjoyed more frequently this summer. To help ensure a safe environment for younger church members, here are a few playground safety tips to consider.
Check your surfaces
Playground surfaces are one of the most important areas to properly maintain. Take a walk around your playground area and check surfaces to make sure they are clear of any holes, cracks, obstacles, or debris that could cause slips, trips, or falls. Additionally, keep in mind that your playground surface can make a big impact on the extent of fall injuries. Surfaces should help absorb shock and hard surfaces should be avoided. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends that surfaces are made up of either “at least 12 inches of wood chips, mulch, sand, or pea gravel or are mats made of safety-tested rubber or rubber-like materials.” It is also important to make sure surfaces are adequately extended from playground equipment. If your surfaces are inadequate or have experienced wear and tear, be sure to replace or repair them.
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Check your equipment Children love the thrill of zooming down a slide, climbing to the top of a jungle gym, or soaring towards the sky on a swing. However, broken, worn, or faulty equipment can quickly present an opportunity for an injury. Perform routine inspections on all equipment to help ensure it is in proper working order. Some things to consider for specific pieces include:
Swings - Check all chain links, seats, and ‘S’ hooks to confirm they are designed for swing set use and are in good working condition. Also repair and cover any exposed metal that could pinch, scratch, burn, or cut users.
Composite structures/jungle gyms - Inspect the drive and foundation screws for all of your structures. Secure any loose screws and check welds on all structures for cracks. Additionally, check for rust and erosion on connections between structures. For any issues identified, be sure to take care of any necessary repairs.
Slides - Check slides for scratches, chips, warps, and cracks and make repairs if there are hazards. Look for missing or broken nuts, bolts, or screws and make appropriate replacements.
Spinners - Check for wear and tear. There should not be any visible moving mechanical parts on the equipment and if shields or other parts are rusted or chipped, replace them to help prevent injury. Landing areas should be free of debris that could be a tripping hazard, especially since there is the potential for dizziness after exiting the spinner.
Whether your playground utilizes employees, volunteers or parents, there should always be proper adult supervision present. Appropriate supervision can help reduce the amount of injuries that take place and potentially minimize their severity while helping your ministry avoid a costly injury claim.
Continue adhering to any health guidelines that are in place
As guidance for gatherings changes, particularly for outdoor spaces, it is still important to be sure you are following any state or local health guidelines. This could include mask mandates or limiting the number of people who gather at your playground. Regardless of what restrictions may or may not be in place, still consider setting up sanitizing stations and routinely cleaning your surfaces and equipment.
Playgrounds should be a fun place for everyone to enjoy. With proper planning and upkeep, your church playground can be a safe environment that provides positive experiences for many.
Questions about insurance related to your church property or playground? Contact a church insurance expert today and get a free quote by calling 866-203-0777.