Updated: Jul 27
Before your church reopens for full activities, schedule time to help ensure your playground is safe and secure for your young members. There are six areas to consider which can help you plan for, protect, and restore the safety of your playground area:
The main structure(s) of a jungle-gym are essential to providing a safe environment on your playground. Examine the drive and foundation screws for all your structures. Secure any loose screws and remove any debris from the area. Check welds on all structures for cracks and schedule repairs to reinforce any cracked areas. Connections between structures like slides, swing sets, and other playground equipment should be examined for rust and erosion, as well. Taking time to check these areas can give your ministry a solid foundation for playground safety.
The quickest way from point A to point B, on a playground, is the slide. Perhaps the most popular area of the playground, both metal and composite slides can be a source of safety hazards. Check slides for scratches, chips, warps, and cracks. Repair or replace any components if these hazards are present. Also, replace any missing, cracked, broken, or rusted bolts, nuts, and screws. Be sure that all existing and replacement parts are appropriate for the intended use. Finally, make sure the footing and landing area of the slide is safe for exiting the slide.
While spinning around in circles in a tire or on a merry-go-round may be fun, the dismount can be a sticky situation. Look out for any visible wear and tear on the equipment. Also, make sure there are no visible moving mechanical parts on the equipment. Replace any shields or parts that are rusted or chipped to help prevent scratches and cuts. It is very important to provide an appropriate landing area that is free of debris. Because of potential disorientation or dizziness, this debris could create a tripping hazard. Speed regulators and proper adult supervision can help your ministry avoid a costly injury from equipment misuse.
Ladders and Climb Walls
Rising to the top can be a lot of fun -- if done safely. Tighten and secure all rungs or climbing grips. If possible, adding appropriate non-slip material can add an extra level of safety to this equipment. Repair any corrosion at connection points and perform general maintenance on the foundation of this style of equipment. These areas should always be closely monitored by a screened and trained adult.
We all remember feeling like we could touch the sky at the apex of a swing. Maintaining this area of your ministry will provide that same experience for the next generation. Check all chain links, seats, and 'S' hooks to make sure they are in good working condition. Repair and cover any exposed metal that could pinch, scratch, or cut equipment users. Ensuring your ministry provides an appropriate amount of landing space based on equipment guidelines can help protect swing users and your ministry.
The surface of the playground area is your last line of defense against scrapes, bumps, and bruises. Consult a playground assembly specialist for playground surface recommendations. Walk across the surface and check for extreme wear and tear. If you have a loose-fitting surface like sand, pebbles, or wood chips, check for adequate depth of the material into the ground. Also, clean any loose material from sidewalks and other areas outside of the playground.
After completing this checkup, make note of any completed repairs or future maintenance needs in a maintenance report for your church council. This will help your church keep a record of these actions and prepare for potential playground safety expenses.
When you are covered by UMIP, we will be there when you need us. Churches have unique needs. As a part of the denomination, we understand the unique needs of United Methodist churches and their operations, which is reflected in our coverage options. Your ministry deserves outstanding insurance and UMIP works for you each day to help protect your church’s people, property, and finances.
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This content has been prepared by United Methodist Insurance Company (UMI) for informational purposes only. No article or document may accurately contemplate all possible scenarios or church resources. As such, this information is meant to foster discussion by the individual church and its members to develop a plan tailored to its own circumstances. UMI is providing this information with no warranties or guarantees of any kind and it should not be viewed as legal, financial, or other professional advice. All liability is expressly disclaimed. Any claim examples described herein are general in nature, may or may not be based on actual claims, and are for informational purposes only. Any coverage available for a claim is determined from the facts and circumstances of the claim as well as the terms and conditions of any applicable policy, including any exclusions or deductibles. In the event of a conflict with the content herein, the terms and conditions of any issued policy will control. Individual coverage may vary and may not be available in all states.
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