Friday, October 29, 2010

Playground Supervision

Even playgrounds that are designed, installed and maintained in accordance with safety guidelines and standards can still present hazards to children in the absence of adequate supervision. Because all playgrounds present some challenge and because children can be expected  to use equipment in unintended and unexpected ways, adult supervision is highly recommended. Not all playground equipment is appropriate for all children who may use the playground. Direct children to age-appropriate activities. Supervisors should be aware that the playground equipment is designed based on the most current version of ASTM standard F1487. The age-appropriateness of the equipment is also set based on  this standard. The range of users encompassed by this consumer safety performance specification is the 5th percentile 2-year-old through the 95th percentile 12-year-old. It is important to recognize that preschool-age children require more attentive supervision on playground equipment than older children.Following these recommendations will help minimize accidents and injury to children while playing, but will not eliminate them entirely. Always remember that hazards can be eliminated - but risk can not.

Supervisors should understand the basics of playground safety such as:
  • Checking for broken equipment and making sure children don’t play on it.
  • Checking for and removing unsafe modifications, especially ropes tied to equipment before letting children play.
  • Checking for properly maintained protective surfacing.
  • Making sure children are wearing footwear.
  • Watching and stopping dangerous horseplay, such as children throwing protective surface materials, jumping from heights, etc.
  • Watching for and stopping children from wandering away from the play area.
  • Not permitting the use of wet playground equipment. Wet equipment will not provide the necessary traction and gripping capability. Slips or falls may occur.
  • Constantly observing play patterns to note possible hazardous play and overcrowding on playground equipment.
  • Making sure children do not wear loose clothing, hoods,drawstrings or jewelry while on the playground equipment.These items could pose a strangulation/entanglement hazard.
  • Checking to see that play surfaces are at an acceptable temperature before allowing children to play on them.
We can't possibly list everything in a short publication!   For more information:


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Playground Maintenance

What type maintenance is required for my play equipment?

In your scheduled inspections you should document and take corrective action on all issues you observe. Inspections must be thorough, detailed and objective. Picking up litter is an on the spot activity, but you may find other problems that need parts or repair. Hazards may require that you take an activity or entire structure out of service until it is repaired. Repairs should be made in compliance to manufacturer recommendations. At some point in the life of the equipment you may need to assess the value of repair versus replacement. While it is often a greater expense to replace equipment, we can not place a value on the safety of our children.

Surfacing should be checked regularly to ensure surfacing has not displaced significantly, particularly in areas of the playground most subject to displacement (heavy traffic areas). Displaced loose-fill surfacing should be raked back into proper place so that a constant depth is maintained throughout the playground area.

Key points to look for during regular checks of surfacing:
  • Areas under swings and at slide exits. Activity in these areas tend to displace surfacing quickly. Rake loose-fill surfacing back in place.
  • Pooling water on mulch surfacing. Wet mulch compacts faster then dry, fluffy mulch. If puddles are noticed regularly, consideraddressing drainage issues.
  • Frozen surfacing. Most loose-fill surfacing that freezes solid no longer functions as protective surfacing. Even if the first few inchesare loose, the base layer may be frozen and the impact attenuation of the surfacing may be significantly reduced.

This is NOT a complete safety evaluation of the playground equipment, such as risk of falls from equipment or moving impact incidents. Also, please be aware that playgrounds that are designed, installed and maintained in accordance with safety guidelines and standards can still present hazards to children in the absence of adequate supervision.

An inspection and maintenance program is a requirement of playground ownership. Whether you have multiple large facilities with numerous equipment or one piece of equipment or fall somewhere in between, it is your responsibility as a playground owner/operator to inspect and maintain your equipment. Because the safety of playground equipment and its suitability for use depend on good inspection and maintenance,a comprehensive maintenance program for each playground must be developed and strictly followed. All playground areas and equipment should be inspected frequently for potential hazards, paying special attention to moving parts and other components which can be expected to wear. Inspections should be carried out in a systematic manner by trained personnel familiar with the playground area, such as maintenanceworkers, playground supervisors, etc. Inspections alone do not constitute a comprehensive maintenance program. Any damaged or worn parts, or any other hazards identified during inspection must be repaired or replaced before allowing children to use the playground equipment.Implementing an inspection and maintenance program is of the utmost importance and requires the full cooperation from the owner down to the playground supervisors. The importance of this program should be understood and supported by all members of administration,maintenance and the inspection staff as well as the playground supervisors.  All information pertaining to the equipment should be kept on file(e.g., manufacturer of equipment, sales representative information, sales brochures, date of purchase, sales paperwork, shipping paperwork,drawings, bill of materials/packing list, installation instructions, date of installation, installer information, warranty information, etc. A record of any accident or injury reported to have occurred on the playground equipment should also be retained. ).The frequency of inspection and maintenance will be determined by several factors, such as the amount of use the equipment receives, theage of the children playing on the equipment, the age of the equipment and the area in which the equipment is installed. However, the more the equipment is inspected, the better the chances of finding and correcting any potential problems. A recorded inspection schedule should be adhered to and a copy signed and kept on file. New sites and equipment should be added to the inspection schedule. Training must be an ongoing commitment. The inspection report will serve as a report card against your audit and action plan. The audit will continue to play a major role in the inspection and maintenance program by measuring progress using statistics, actions taken and actions recommended.We recommend that you enlist the services of a Certified Playground Safety Inspector to assist you with auditing your equipment and developing an inspection and maintenance plan to suit your individual needs. He or she will also be able to assist in the development of short term plans as well as long term plans in response to equipment that is broken, damaged, missing, vandalized, worn, etc.
For more information:


Friday, October 22, 2010

Common Abbreviations and Publications

Here are some of the common abbreviations we have seen used around the playground:

ASTM- American Society of Testing and Materials

CPSC- Consumer Product Safety Commission,
Publication 321: Little Big Kids (PDF)
(For parents to read with their kids (ages 3-5) on the topic of playground safety)

Publication 325: Handbook for Public Playground Safety
Publication 324: Outdoor Home Playground Safety Handbook
Publication 327:Public Playground Safety Checklist (HTML)
(Use this checklist to inspect local school and community playgrounds and notify school or park officials about any hazards found.)

328 Soft Contained Play Equipment Safety Checklist (HTML) CPSC staff developed checks to help parents and children use Soft Contained Play Equipment safely.

5036 Prevent Burns on Hot Metal Playground Equipment (HTML) (PDF) Safety Alert.

5065 Strangulation Hazard with Playground Cargo Nets (HTML) (PDF) Safety Alert.

5094 Strings Can Strangle Children on Playground Equipment (HTML)  Safety Alert.

5119 Never Put Children's Climbing Gyms On Hard Surfaces, Indoors Or Outdoors (HTML) (PDF)  Safety Alert.

5121 Wear Bike Helmets On Bicycles - Not On Playgrounds (HTML) (PDF)  Safety alert on a hidden hazard.

6005 CPSC Staff Recommendations for Identifying and Controlling Lead Paint on Public Playground Equipment (HTML)  Executive Summary.

6006 Recommendations for Identifying and Controlling Lead Paint on Public Playground Equipment (HTML)

6007 Questions and Answers for Lead Paint on Public Playground Equipment Prepared by CPSC Staff (HTML)

IPEMA- International Playground Equipment Manufacturing Association

CPSI- Certified Playground Safety Inspector, nationally certified by examination

NPSI- National Playground Safety Institute

NRPA- National Recreation and Parks Association

CCA- Chromated Copper Arsenic used as recently as 2003 to treat wood, now known as hazardous


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Do I pay CASH for my Playground?

Do I have to pay cash?
Payment methods for playgrounds vary with the type of service, product or equipment. Large purchases may be a problem for cash flow in a small (or perhaps even a large) business. When planning your playground, consider your overall financial situation. Don't let money impact safety. It would be a better business decision to build a portion of an activity area than build something that doesn't meet appropriate safety considerations. Your design plan may include stages for present and future development. There are also numerous fund raising programs or finance and leasing options available to help match your playground to your business needs.
Consider Leasing
  • Advantages to leasing your equipment.  
  • Leasing saves working capital: You can finance 100% of your equipment costs; there's no down payment.
  • Leasing establishes additional credit lines: Your existing bank lines remain intact for other financial needs.
  • Leasing includes all costs of acquisition: Your lease payments can also include the costs of freight, delivery and installation
  • Add-A-Lease lets you acquire additional equipment as you need it: Our lease grows with you, allowing you to add equipment to the original lease agreement.
  • Leasing offers tax advantages: Your lease payments may be deductible as an operating expense. Check with your accountant.
  • Leasing expands your budget: Leasing's affordable monthly payments can mean the difference between improvements now or waiting for future cash availability.
  • Leasing is a hedge against inflation:Tomorrow's dollar may not have today's purchasing power, so it makes sense to use tomorrow's dollars to pay for today's new equipment.
 Leasing is available only for business entities.
For More information:

Monday, October 18, 2010

Why Rubber Mulch?

Why Rubber Mulch?

Has replacing and replenishing the wood mulch in your playground each year become a burden? Annual additions is not only expensive but also time consuming. Many playground owners don't replenish as often as they really should. This leaves a dangerous impact hazard for your children while refill is on the radar. There is an alternative to using traditional wood mulch. Long-lasting, durable RUBBER is the answer to this playground issue. Recycled rubber is available in a variety of beautiful colors. Since RUBBER mulch is only applied once to your playground, it will definitely save you both time and money.

Earth Friendly

RUBBER PLAYGROUND MULCH is also an eco-friendly alternative for the millions of tires that are discarded each year in landfills. Often these landfills become breeding grounds for mosquitoes and dangerous diseases. Recycling these once useless tires into rubber mulch is a great benefit to the environment. 100% recycled tires that are non-biodegradable replaces the traditional wood mulch. You are not only choosing a quality product but you are also helping to keep our environment eco-friendly.

Variety of Rubber Mulch Colors and Grades

DunRite offers a variety of rubber mulch colors and grades. Several beautiful, natural –looking colors are available to help customize your playground to your specific taste. Some of the colors to choose from are a milk chocolate Natural American, a deep dark Bark Brown, a traditional Rustic Redwood, and a natural looking Cypress. This product will stay vibrant throughout the years and will not fade like wood mulch due to sunlight exposure. Not only are there several color choices, but also there are a variety of rubber mulch grades depending on your specific product needs. Contact DunRite to determine the proper product. Remember that this is PLAYGROUND grade, not landscape grade. For those applications, we have appropriate materials to choose from!

Advantages of Rubber Mulch

RUBBER MULCH will help protect your playground from unwanted insects, mildew, and fungus. Wood mulch also soaks up water, making it a target for mildew. Since RUBBER MULCH will not soak up water, it does not produce mildew instead it actually allows water to penetrate more quickly and drain away from your play areas. Wood mulch also has a tendency to breed “artillery” fungus which can often permanently things like your children and their clothes. RUBBER MULCH does not promote the breeding of fungus.

Cost Factors

RUBBER MULCH is definitely the answer to the many problems with traditional wood mulch. Our color warranty ensures that your rubber RUBBER MULCH color will last. Figure the annual replenishment costs, replenishment labor, freight and delivery charges, and the risk to safety- this quickly becomes the most cost effective solution!

For more solutions and information, contact your PLAYGROUND Professionals at DunRite Playgrounds.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Playgrounds and Better Health

Playgrounds and Better Health
There is not much doubt that recent generations seem to be in worse physical shape than their parents. Research points us toward an understanding that physical activity is good for our children. First Lady Michelle Obama has made fitness and childhood obesity a topic for our society to address with her Let's Move campaign.
 In a recent article in Playground News by Elisabeth Best, titled Public Schools: An Untapped Recreational Resource,  we learn "Exercise can reduce gall stones and protect the hypothalamus, in addition to providing the more obvious benefits of improved cardiovascular health and an endorphin-elevated mood." Endorphins are produced in the pituitary gland during physical activity or exercise and are responsible in helping us to feel good and have a feeling of well-being. Unless we subject our children to acupuncture, a weight room, or a running track, there aren't a lot of other ways that are this easy to encourage this NATURAL, biochemical production and such good results. A visit to the playground with your children may even result in improvements to adult health!  Don't mention to the children that they are going out for exercise, perhaps don't tell the children that running, jumping, playing and having fun are good for them. Let them have simple and pure fun.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in May 2010 that approximately one in five homes have a park, fitness or recreation center within a half-mile (Associated Press). The CDC issues concerns that one reason US children are overweight is that few have a nearby place to play and exercise. You will find the playground referenced as a one of the sources of children's health. Keep in mind the actual name of this government entity, the focus is on control and prevention! Of course, there is more to it, but it will be hard to argue that play is a valuable and life changing experience. As parents and adults, some of our best childhood memories are obtained from the playground. The playground experience is not only physical, but an emotional, social and cognitive experience. Voice of Play, an Outreach of the International Playground Equipment Manufacturers Association explains that "Free play encourages children to develop skills that build self-confidence and self-esteem, such as risk-taking, conflict resolution and imaginative dramatic play."
PLAY isn't a new fad or concept . Albert Einstein told us "Play is the highest form of research." Publius Ovidius Naso Ovid, Roman Poet 43 BC- 18 AD  wrote “In our play we reveal what kind of people we are.”  American writer Eric Hoffer wrote,  “It is the child in man that is the source of his uniqueness and creativeness, and the playground is the optimal milieu for the unfolding of his capacities and talents.”
Don't make play, recess and fun a historical note to teach our children about. Experience a new level of fitness. Engage in challenging activity for children, young and old. 
Visit us online for more information, at
DunRite Fitness


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

How Long Will It Last?

Without a proverbial crystal ball, this is a really tough question to answer honestly.  Playground equipment is designed for use by an intended age group indicated by the design.  With appropriate use, certainly longer than a product that is misused or abused.   Our commercial playground equipment carries several different warranties.   This will help with a partial answer. 
Galvanized steel posts, stainless steel hardware, aluminum fittings and aluminum post caps typically have a LIFETIME warranty.    With proper care and maintenance, this is certainly a reasonable and reachable expectation. More about care in a moment.   Punched decks, those coated, steel decks the children are standing on inside the play structure usually boast a 15 year warranty.  Rails, rungs, loops, rotationally molded plastics and plastic sheet components have a typical 10 year warranty.  
Does this mean when the warranty ends, it breaks?
NO!!! Warranty terms are usually determined by manufacturers by average and expected use.   An elementary school with hundreds of children per hour is going to deliver much more rugged use than a private facility that may only be open one or two days a week.   A child care center may experience constant and continuous play on the playground, but always under adult supervision.  A community park may experience fewer children at play, but neighborhood hoodlums (not from your neighborhood, of course) may be a little too old to be horsing around on the equipment.   Use, and the appropriate use at that- is one of the most important factors in the life of your equipment.  Vandalism and misuse place a strong toll on your life expectancy and value.  Imagine the disappointment of a city manager to learn his $3000 slide was cracked by the local skateboard enthusiasts experiencing the thrill of the huge skate ramp they found. 

What can I do to improve the life expectancy?
Take your vitamins and exercise regularly.  Well, that may help your life, but not necessarily that of your playground equipment.  It starts with the planning and design.  Ensure that you design is appropriate for the intended use, both capacity and age group.   We have a line of equipment that is designed with larger diameter, steel posts, larger decks and larger tubes.  This is appropriate for heavy use, large numbers, and offers a bold and impressive appearance. If you expect a lot of older children, such as at an elementary school, choose appropriate design features for older children.   Two foot high slides for a ten year old are not much fun as a play event. They may also be more fun as a climbing ramp than a slide.  Spring Rockers are fun for a five year old, but older children are going to cause greater wear and tear than intended. 
Installation is another key factor at the beginning of the life of your equipment.  Professional installation requires strict adherence to manufacturer guidelines, measurements and methods.  Improper installation may result in wear and tear in areas not expected by the design.   Even with professional installation, the owner operator should be familiar with the components and the intended appearance and function.   Regular inspection is also another important step in your playground management. 
So, I Need to be a Playground Mechanic?
Familiar and observant would be more appropriate terms.  If it needs repair, consult a professional.   If damage is noticed to a post, it should be addressed.  That simple crack or dent from the young'ens using the post as a batting tee doesn't seem like a serious problem at first.  After seasons of heat, cold, dry and rain, rust may set in under the layers of powder coating, zinc and galvanization.   A simple surface touch up may prevent much more serious consequence later on.   Years ago we pulled into a service station and a mechanic cheerfully approached us, thereafter filled our tank, checked the oil and filled any needed fluids.  Cost cutting, self service is the norm now.  Nobody bounces out, service with a smile, and checks the oil.   Perhaps this is why our cars don't last as long as years ago?    Years ago a mentor taught me the phrase: "You don't get what you EXPECT, you get what you INSPECT."  For a long time I thought he was a silly crank.   Now, as a parent and playground professional, I realize that the INSPECTION of the playground is MY duty, responsibility and privilege.   If MY child is going to be playing on this equipment, I'll give it a once over before Junior plays.   Regular and scheduled inspections and maintenance of your equipment will extend the value and timeline.  (Yes, this is the second time to state this.)
Adult Supervision
One community association installed cameras on the side of the nearby facility building with an aim over the playground.  They didn't connect to anything, but did indeed serve as a good supervisor.  One community association put the playground at the front of the community, where lots of people pass by and watch. (No, I'm not advocating placement on the thoroughfare, that is another topic).   Another community association put the entire playground inside a compound, with gated entrance and ample PRIVATE signage.  Another community association placed a sign that suggested children only play with adult supervision.  They then sent letters to all community members instructing of the same.  Guess which playgrounds are not only going to last longer, but likely be MUCH safer for the children at play?  Other than your child's pediatrician, there isn't likely going to be a better supervisor than Mom or Dad.  Encourage your adults to be part of the playground program.  Install benches for parents.  One community encourages family participation in the park by installing a gazebo, shade covered benches, picnic tables and a sand volleyball court.   Something tells me one city manager would have been a lot happier if he had spent $3000 on site amenities and had a host of adults in the park, than having to appropriate an emergency replacement cost. 
Work with your playground professional to plan a WHOLE picture. Buying the "cheapest" piece of equipment may bite you in the back half.   When our children's safety is involved, make sure YOU are involved and your playground will last longer, and be safe longer.  Call or write us for more information, guidance or suggestions!

DunRite Playgrounds
DunRite Sports & Athletics


Monday, October 11, 2010

Choosing the RIGHT Fitness Equipment

Child obesity continues to increase at an alarming rate! Nationally, over 30% of children ages 6 to 11 years are overweight and 15% are considered obese. Overweight children face many health care concerns, including damage to growing bones and cartilage, Type 2 Diabetes and heart disease. All of this, coupled with a national trend of diminished playtime at school, our children are at risk.

To combat child obesity, selecting a playground Fitness Course for your play environment is the right decision. A Fitness Course will stimulate children to test their strength, stamina, and coordination. Fitness equipment presents a challenge to children and will act as a prompt for competitive play. Fitness Courses will encourage more physical play than traditional playground equipment such as see saws, swings, and slides.
Fitness Course Equipment represents an excellent value as you will be able to purchase more individual products when compared to traditional play products such as a modular system. An important factor to consider is the space required for Fitness Course Equipment because each piece of equipment must maintain a 6' fall zone perimeter. Fitness Courses tend to be installed inline when space is not a consideration or in a circle when at a premium. Another method is to spread the course out over a larger area so that children can run from one event to the next further promoting physical activity. Adult Fitness Courses tend to employ this method of layout and one can find fitness stations near jogging paths on most public recreational sites.

For more information visit us online


Friday, October 8, 2010

Swings for the Disabled?

The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) began with a signing ceremony at the White House on July 26, 1990. The spirit of ADA is straight forward; to provide accessibility for people of all abilities. Applying these principals to the playground industry was a natural transition. The Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (ADAAG), also known as the "Access Board," developed guidelines to apply the spirit of ADA to playground areas, both new and existing.

Adapting playground activities to meet ADA guidelines can be quite challenging. The swinging sensation is very popular and desired by children of all abilities. Applying ADA guidelines to a swing was considered all but impossible! The swinging sensation is very popular and desired by children of all abilities. SportsPlay is proud to feature many different types of accessible swings that include a hammock swing and a molded swing that are shaped to hold children and adults in a supine position. A truly unique product is our Wheelchair Swing Platform that allows the entire wheelchair to swing. As such, the design of our swing platform eliminates the need for difficult wheelchair transition. Made of sturdy plastisol coated steel, the platform features two ramps for wheelchair access and egress. The platform is designed to allow the chair operator not only access to the platform, but also initiate the swing motion via a pull chain, if they are so inclined. The wheelchair swing platform mounts like a traditional swing via swing hangers and is suspended from the swing's top rail.

The wheelchair swing requires special consideration when placing the unit into the playground environment. Logic would dictate that the swing should be placed in an isolated area that would keep other children from crossing it's path when in motion. A common practice is to surround the unit with a barrier to keep others from crossing the swing's "to and fro" path. Another practice is to ensure the unit remains locked while not in use.

DunRite Playgrounds is proud to offer a product that embodies the true spirit of ADA, allowing children of all abilities access to playground events.

For more information visit us online at


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Choosing the RIGHT Merry Go Round

The playground Merry-Go-Round is a favorite of children around the world. The merry-go-round stimulates cooperative play and creates the fun sensation children often equate with carnival rides. Since the advent of the Consumer Product Safety Commission Guidelines for Playground Safety, the merry-go-round has evolved over the years to incorporate safety and functionality. In the past, merry-go-rounds could be found in many sizes made from materials such as wood and steel. Today, one is more likely to find steel as the material of choice with sizes ranging from 6' to 10' in diameter.

As part of the nation's movement to decrease playground related accidents, the merry-go-round has incorporated several basic standards to improve safety. When selecting a merry-go-round for your playground, ensure your product is no less than 9" above the surface. Additionally, the CPSC recommends that the speed of the merry-go-round not exceed 13 ft/sec. To limit excessive speed and to maintain the recommendation of CPSC guidelines, many manufacturers employee the use of a speed governor. The speed governor ensures the speed is restricted to within the recommended parameters. Handrails are also an important safety feature and will keep children from walking laterally while the unit is spinning and of course, provide a stationary post for grip.

Unique to the market, our Tea Cup merry-go-round provides an amusement park ride for the playground environment. The Tea Cup also encourages children to sit down while the ride is in motion. The middle spinning disc promotes cooperative play and provides a physical challenge as children employ upper body muscles to set the unit in motion. Because of this design, the Tea Cup merry-go-round will usually ride slower than traditional merry-go-rounds. To ensure CPSC speed guidelines, the Tea Cup merry-go-round features a speed governor.

The diameter of the merry-go-round will dictate the number of children it can accommodate. The 6' disc will allow 8 children, the 8' disc 12 children, and the 10' as many as 16 children. The use zone of the merry-go-round is calculated by adding 12' feet to the product's diameter. The use zone is the area that immediately surrounds the product that must remain free of objects. This zone is maintained as an additional safety measure and is recommended by the CPSC.

For more information, visit us online at


Monday, October 4, 2010

Choosing the RIGHT Swingset

Swings or swing sets are a popular play fixture found on most playgrounds throughout the world. Swings provide children with a fun-filled sensation as they glide to and fro on units made of steel or wood. In fact, swings have been around for many centuries and have been depicted in classical art throughout the ages. In early times, swings could be found hanging from tree limbs. Over the years, and with the formation of Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) guidelines, swings have evolved with safety in mind. Safety guidelines dictate that the swings fall zone (area free from other objects) shall be 2 times the height of the top in front and behind the swing. Given this fact, a swings fall zone occupies a large area. When selecting your swing, keep this fact in mind.

When selecting your swing, also consider the age of the child. The older the child, the higher the swing's top rail. The top rail height is measured from the ground to the cross bar that supports the swings. Also, as the age of the child increases, so too should the steel post diameter. Older children (classified as 5-12) and adults are easily accommodated on swings that feature a top rail of 3.5" O.D. at a height of 10-12'. Additionally, the swing should employ three support legs (called a Tripod) rather than a Bipod. The Tripod configuration will provide greater support and less motion when used by older children and adults.
A Bipod swing featuring a top rail measuring 2 3/8" O.D. with heights of 8' will accommodate younger children classified as 2-5 years of age. Single post swings provide a sleek look and are better suited for younger children.

The swing fall zone is a very important consideration. Equally important is the location of the swing set in relation to the other structures in the play environment. The CPSC recommends that swings be placed away from other play activities. Such placement is encouraged to reduce the chance of children crossing the path of the swing's motion arch. Many accidents occur when a child crosses the path of a swing in motion. Calculating a swing fall zone is very easy. In the back and forth area (swing motion-front and behind) you must maintain a space that is 2 x the height of the top rail. If the top rail is 10' tall, the space required is 20' in front and 20' behind for a total of 40'. In the side-to-side area, you follow the standard requirement of 6' on either side of the swing. If the swing is 20' wide, you add 6' feet to each side for a total of 32'. The total fall zone for the swing used in this example is 40' x 32'. This total area must have a safety surface that meets the CPSC requirements for impact attenuation.

For more information visit online


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Choosing the RIGHT Play System

A term that is commonly used in today's playground market is "Modular" Play System. As the name implies, "Modular"play is a group of modules that fit together to form playgrounds of varies sizes, shapes, challenges, and accessibility.

The Modular Playground System, or playground unit, is generally the centerpiece of the modern play ground environment. Found in parks, schools, day cares, and any location children play, the modern playground is quite different from the equipment manufactured before the early nineties. Older playgrounds were built with little consideration for accessibility, longevity, and in many cases, safety. Even today, one can find the rusted skeletal remains of these playground dinosaurs. The modern play system has evolved into a well presented, thoughtfully configured unit, featuring materials that are built to last while following strict guidelines to ensure safety, and meet the needs of the physically challenged.

When selecting a playground unit, one must consider space, budget, and play components. Space is a very important consideration as this alone can dictate the size of the unit. The Consumer Product Safety Commission Guidelines for Playground Safety have determined that a six-foot fall zone must be established and maintained around the entire playground unit. Once you have established the size available for the unit, you can begin to lay out the structure. 2-D or Birdseye view drawings are very helpful in designing the playground unit. Using a series of geometric shapes, you can begin to see the unit take form. Typically, decks are represented as squares and the various play events are attached to each deck. Together, the deck, post and play event represents a module. You can continue to add modules together in any direction based on the space available at your play site. Once a 2-D drawing is composed, a 3-D rendering of the proposed unit can be generated. Through computer technology, you can see exactly what the playground will look like.

The next important consideration is handicap accessibility. The U.S. Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board wrote a "Guide to ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Play Areas." The ADA guidelines dictate the ratio of ground level play events (play components accessible from ground level, i.e. a wheelchair) to elevated play events. The goal of ADA accessibility on a playground unit is to allow children of all abilities play opportunities so they will not feel left out of the play experience. When designing your playground, ensure you adhere to the ADA guidelines.

For more information, visit online at