With the increasing popularity of television, video games, and computers, most children do not feel the need to go out to playgrounds. They are no longer interested in playing outdoors, as they have ways to entertain themselves in the confines of their homes. Moreover, there are times when the parents are pressed for time due to their hectic schedule.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) of the United States of America has specified a few precautions to be taken while constructing a playground and designing playground equipment plans. It has also specified some criteria to ensure the safety of your kids.
- Install a shock-absorbing floor before starting the installation. For added safety, place rubber or rubber-like material mats, especially close to high equipment. The CPSC suggests the use of thick layers of wood chips, shredded rubber, mulch, sand, or pea gravel around the area.
- Install protective surfacing, specially for swings, that extend twice the height of the suspending chains.
- Never attach ropes, jump ropes, or clothes lines to the equipment; children may trip over these.
- Avoid having any open "S" hooks or protruding bolt ends. If needed, bend the open pointed end inside or cover it up with rubber/plastic caps.
- If there is any space between guardrails or ladder rungs, keep it less than 3.5 inches or more than 9 inches. This ensures that a child cannot get trapped in or pass through without getting stuck.
- All the platforms, ramps, bridges, and ladders should have guardrails to prevent the kids from falling.
- Check if the equipment has sharp points or edges. If it does, try to cover it up with foam or rubber material.
- Remove exposed concrete footings, tree stumps, and rocks that can cause the kids to trip.
- Maintenance of these play materials should be done on a regular basis.
- It is better not to have any water bodies or pits in the vicinity of the play area. If you have a swimming pool nearby, install a proper partition between them.
- Proper supervision of elders is essential when the kids are playing. This especially applies in case of very young kids.
- A full-fledged first aid kit should be ready for any emergencies.
The outdoor play area should be designed keeping in mind the age of the kids and the purpose of each item.
There are slides known as tunnel slides that are closed like a tube. See to it that they are wide enough and do not have any nails or other hardware protruding out. Slides are effective in exercising the body as the kid has to climb the ladder to get to the top.
Swings are of many types. There are flat swings without any support. These are good for kids, big enough to take care of themselves.