You may not know it, but a lot of science and study has gone into determining the best materials and specifications for playground surfaces. As a result of these efforts and studies, groups like the NSC (National Safety Council) have created recommendations for materials, care, and even depth for certain types of surfaces to keep children and families safe.
What Kind of Surfaces Are Recommended?
While many playgrounds continue to use wood mulch, it is not a preferred surface material for playgrounds anymore. Regular wood mulch often introduces issues like splinters, mold & mildew, rot, and should be replaced on a yearly basis. Additionally, wood mulch can freeze when wet over winter months, which reduces impact absorption which can lead to unintentional injuries.
The playground industry prefers to use surface materials like:
● Engineered Wood Fiber (EWF)
● Loose-fill rubber
● Poured-in-place rubber
● Bonded rubber
These materials are preferred in playgrounds due to their durability and resistance to issues like mold and rot. These durable materials offer longer lifespan between replacement, but still need to be inspected on a regular basis. Regular inspection of your play surfaces for proper depth for loose-fill options, or cracking with poured or bonded rubber surfaces can help keep your playgrounds safe.
What Else Should You Look For On Playground Surfaces?
You should always be on the lookout for issues like exposed footings or fasteners as these can not only become tripping hazards, but can lead to more serious injuries of a child were to fall and hit one. Exposed concrete or other dangerous items should be identified and either covered with loose fill or have another type of physical barrier installed to prevent injury.
Per the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission), playground and facilities managers should consider the impact ratings of their playground surfaces as well. By calculating factors like possible fall heights, it is possible to determine the best materials to use which will help prevent injuries if a child were to fall from a piece of playground equipment.
If you do not know your playground surface impact safety ratings, it is possible to have an inspection service much like the experts at Playground Guardian perform impact testing and provide any recommendations to meet CPSC guidelines in your play areas.
What is the Next Step?
If you are concerned about your playground surfaces, you can always contact the CPSI certified team of inspectors at Playground Guardian. Our inspectors will help you find any issues that you may have with your playground surfaces, and can even resolve those issues for you through proper maintenance or even replacement of your playground surfaces, if necessary.
If you still have questions, you can always contact us!