There are a number of severe weather events that can affect the safety of your playground equipment, including:
● Heavy rain and flooding
● Strong winds from tropical storms and hurricanes
● Snow, blizzards, and freeze-thaw cycles
● Natural disasters like earthquakes and tornadoes
Knowing how to properly inspect your play equipment after a severe weather event and perform necessary playground maintenance can help you keep your space in working order.
When severe weather hits, here are the steps you need to take before reopening your playground to the public.
Document All Damages
Before you start performing any sort of playground inspection, you’ll want to grab a notepad and a smartphone or camera to document everything you find.
Thorough documentation is your best chance at getting the assistance you need from your playground manufacturer, insurance company, and government agencies like FEMA. Note that there are specific pieces of information you’ll need to include (like date, location, playground maintenance history, and more), so you may want to hire an expert to perform the inspection and document any playground repairs needed.
Inspect Your Playground Surface
Unfortunately, most severe weather events will affect the safety of your playground surface, so it should be the first point of your inspection.
Rain and wind can blow trash, debris, and other hazards into your loose-fill surface. Start by inspecting the surface as a whole to assess its condition following the weather event. Remove any debris and hazards (either by hand or by flushing your entire surface with fresh water) and then rake the material flat, taking extra care at high-traffic areas like under swings and slide exits.
Wind and rain can also blow loose-fill surfacing out of the playground area. Check the depth of your surfacing throughout the playground area and pour additional surfacing as needed to hit the necessary depth requirements.
Loose-fill surfaces are inherently more difficult to inspect, so take your time to ensure a thorough job or hire a playground maintenance professional to perform the inspection.
Unitary surfaces are a bit easier to inspect. Once you’ve assessed their condition, you’ll simply need to document and fix any tears, holes, or gaps. You may also need to replace rubber tiles or sections of poured rubber if they have come loose or blown away in the wind.
Inspect Your Playground Equipment
Inspecting the equipment where children play is one of the most important steps to take after severe weather. Follow these three simple steps to ensure your playground equipment is safe and stable.
Assess Overall Condition & Structural Integrity
To start, you’ll want to take an overall look at the condition of your playground equipment. In addition to your typical playground inspection checklist, here are a few weather-specific issues to keep an eye out for to maintain optimal playground safety:
● Structural damage
● Significant erosion around playground equipment footings
● Moving equipment (like swings and suspension bridges) that may be blocked by debris
● Missing or broken items like swing seats and decorative elements
If you identify any of these issues, you’ll need immediate playground repair before you re-open your equipment.
Check for Loose & Missing Hardware
Strong wind and heavy rain can loosen bolts and other integral playground hardware. Inspect each piece to make sure it is in place and appropriately tightened. Tighten and/or replace any loose or missing pieces.
Resolve Interior Flooding
Many playground elements (like slides and tunnels) are made of double-walled plastic that can trap water inside. This interior flooding may seem harmless but it can damage your playground over time.
If you find any floodwater trapped within your playground equipment, you’ll need to drill a hole on the underside to allow it to drain. If you’re unsure of how and where to add drainage holes, you may want to consult a playground maintenance professional.
Clean Your Playground
Floodwaters can carry bacteria, sewage, and other hazards. If your playground (or the surrounding area) has flooded, you should thoroughly clean your playground with fresh water and a disinfectant before reopening it to the public.
The same is true if your playground resides in a coastal area where it may have been sprayed by saltwater. Saltwater is corrosive and should be washed away from your playground equipment as soon as possible following any exposure.
Need help getting your playground up and running after a severe weather event? Schedule a consultation with our experts.