We do I only need 2 inches of rubber mulch nuggets for my landscaping, but for my playground, I need between 3 and 6 inches of mulch? The answer is quite simple, fall height protection, or as we call it, good old-fashioned safety on the playground!
Each year, more than 200,000 children have an unexpected trip to the hospital because of an injury that occurred on the playground. Nearly 70 percent of these injuries are the result of falls, rather than equipment-related. In addition, recent studies have indicated that approximately 80 percent of all playgrounds have unsuitable or unsafe surfacing or ground cover and only 9 percent of home playgrounds have the proper surfacing.
Many of these injuries could be prevented if the area they were playing in contained loose-fill rubber mulch nuggets, the safest playground surface available today.
At the start of this discussion, I mentioned something called “fall height protection”, so what exactly does that mean? The fall height is defined as the vertical distance between a designated play surface and the protective surfacing beneath it.
Fall heights vary according to the types of equipment used on a playground. For example, the fall height on a swing set is different than that of a jungle gym or climbing wall. Falls can happen from anywhere or pretty much anything on a playground so if you want to keep your children as safe as can be there really is only one option, rubber nugget mulch.
In addition to installing recycled rubber as your ground cover of choice for safety, here are a few additional tips to stay safe as the spring season heats up and many of us make our way to the local park.
- When you first get to a playground look down first and then up. If you do not feel that the surface is safe, the material is old or compacted, it may be best to find another area to play.
- Taking a child to a playground should be active, for both the child and the adult. Some parents like to spend the time reading a book or sitting on a bench, but as we know, many children channel their inner daredevil when they reach the play equipment. Forty percent of all playground injuries are the result of a lack of supervision.
- Find age-appropriate equipment for your child to play on. If you think it may be dangerous, it probably will be for your child.
- Remove hood and neck drawstrings from all children’s outerwear. Never allow children to wear helmets, necklaces, purses, scarves or clothing with drawstrings while on playgrounds as it increases the risk of strangulation.
- Report any playground safety hazards to the organization responsible for the site (e.g., school, park authority, city council).
- Find a park that offers the little ones some shade as children can become dehydrated very quickly as the temperature rises.
Together we can all help make our play areas safer for all children – now let’s go have some fun!