IKO Community Management knows the spring season and warmer weather brings families and children out to play. Communities with playgrounds and park areas will soon be filled with laughter, fun, and games. Parents and guardians get a chance to relax while the kids get some exercise and burn off energy. To ensure your parks and playgrounds are ready for the little ones, your HOA should have completed a Tot Lot Safety Checklist. By performing an annual or bi-annual (depending on usage and equipment) inspection, your HOA will reduce the chances of someone getting hurt.
To do this properly, your HOA should have the safety inspection completed by a Certified Playground Safety Inspector (CPSI). Each year, over 200,000 kids end up in hospital emergency rooms with injuries associated with playground equipment. Most injuries occur when a child falls from the equipment onto the ground.
Hiring a professional “Safety Inspection” will reduce liability and make sure the inspection and repairs if needed are done properly. Specialized tools, equipment, and training are imperative to make sure your playgrounds and parks are prepared for the outdoor season.
To ensure your HOA has its parks and tot lots ready for activities here is a playground safety checklist of what your certified safety inspector should be providing:
- Annual or Bi-annual audits of playground equipment.
- Regularly scheduled maintenance including:
- Inspect the composite structure
- Adjustment all hardware as needed
- Replace worn out bolts and hooks
- Disinfect playground structure, surrounding benches, tables and trash receptacles
- Wash all equipment and surrounding areas including sidewalks
- Sift and clean out sand areas of foreign objects such as feces, rocks, glass, and debris
- Rake and re-locating the sand
- Sweep areas such as sidewalks
- Make sure surfaces around playground equipment have at least 12 inches of wood chips, mulch, sand or pea gravel, or are mats made of safety-tested rubber or rubber-like material
- Check that protective surfacing extends at least 6 feet in all directions from play equipment. For swings, be sure surfacing extends in back and front, twice the height of the suspending bar.
- Make sure play structures more than 30 inches high are spaced at least 9 feet apart.
- Check for dangerous hardware, like open “S” hooks or protruding bolt ends
- Check for sharp points or edges in equipment
- Make sure spaces that could trap children, such as openings in guardrails or between ladder rungs, measure less than 3.5 inches or more than 9 inches
- Look out for tripping hazards, like exposed concrete footings, tree stumps, and rocks
- Make sure elevated surfaces, like platforms and ramps, have guardrails to prevent falls
- Look for rusted and chipped paint
- Check slides for any areas a child could get clothing snagged and make sure slides are firmly anchored and have good handrails leading up to the sliding platform
- Swings should have a soft seat and be placed at least 24 inches apart. For little ones, only full bucket seats, not half, seats should be installed
- Inspect all open park grass areas for rocks, glass, debris, holes, etc. to ensure safe play
- Climbing equipment should always be assessed – and technically almost anything at a playground can be climbed on, so that means a complete equipment check. Visible signs should be placed that state proper climbing age. For example, children under four years should not use climbing equipment or horizontal ladders – they’re not developmentally coordinated enough for this task. Climbing ropes need to be securely attached at the top and bottom
- Get a written report of work performed
- Get a written inspection and recommendation report
Playground safety begins with parents. Make sure your child is playing in an area that is age appropriate. Your HOA along with a proper safety inspection will have your community parks ready and provide a fun yet safe and secure environment for your children. IKO Community Management reminds all parents and guardians to carefully supervise children on playgrounds to make sure they are safe. If you should see any problems with your neighborhood tot lots, please don’t hesitate to contact your HOA to report your findings. Enjoy the outdoors!