Children are no different from adults because they love to have fun. However, for many kids, fun means jumping, swinging, running, and going down slides. This is the primary reason playgrounds and playground equipment plays a critical role in every child’s development.
Unfortunately, buying playground equipment can be quite expensive. And you cannot afford to be replacing them now and then. So, what can you do to prolong the lifespan of your playground equipment and minimize accidents? Proper maintenance is the answer.
Once you have acquired your playground equipment, the next thing you need to do is ensure they are properly maintained and taken care of to serve your kids for many years. Well-maintained playground equipment can be used without causing harm to your little ones or even yourself.
They can also withstand adverse weather elements and make your playground a great place to be.
Whether you have new or relatively old playground equipment, it would be good to set up a regular maintenance schedule and stick to it. You can do it yourself or hire a playground expert to help you with the maintenance plan.
Read on to find out some great tips for maintaining your outdoor playground equipment.
1. Plan Before You Purchase
While this may sound like an obvious thing to do, many people tend to ignore it completely. Before you purchase your playground equipment, it is always good to think about how it would fit in your playground space and environment.
The installation process of the equipment also matters. If you are looking for something that can withstand heavy play, make sure you go for a play structure that can withstand challenging physical play without requiring constant repair every week or month.
Take time to think about your environment and understand your needs before you start shopping for your playground equipment. Think about where the play structure will be used and how often it will be used.
Proper planning plays a critical role in ensuring you acquire the right equipment for your playground, making the maintenance process a lot easier.
2. Conduct Regular Inspections
In most cases, the big problems that playground owners encounter with their playsets start as minor issues that are ignored for a long time. The most crucial aspect of any playground maintenance plan is regular inspection.
The primary purpose of regular inspections is to ensure your playground equipment is always in excellent condition and safe for use. It also helps you catch minor issues before they get out of hand and become a safety risk for the kids using the equipment.
You can always schedule to have your playground equipment inspected every month or after every two weeks. However, if the play structure attracts relatively high traffic and is used daily, you can always shorten the period to one week or even less.
Your primary target is to ensure everything is always in excellent condition. If you spot any damages during the inspection, make sure you fix them before they become bigger and riskier. Don’t assume anything, no matter how minor it may seem to you.
3. Always Think “Safety First”
There are many approaches to maintaining playground equipment. But the easiest and most effective approach is the “safety first” approach.
In this approach, you need to have your maintenance personnel focus on minor things that may impact the equipment’s safety. It involves simple tasks such as tightening loose bolts and replacing missing ones.
This is especially important in cases where the playground equipment features multiple slides, or the structure is used by a lot of children within the community.
The technique also involves inspecting for any rusty areas on metallic structures or any damaged/warped areas on plastic structures. If any of these issues are identified, be sure to repair the affected areas immediately.
Ignoring such issues may lead to severe damage that can cost you a lot of money in the long run. Typically, it is cheaper to maintain your play structures than replace them.
4. Clean Your Equipment Regularly
If you want your equipment to last for many years, the easiest thing you can do is to ensure they are clean and dust-free all the time. You can schedule to have the equipment cleaned at least twice every week.
Dusting should be done every day because dust does more harm to your equipment. Develop a comprehensive cleaning schedule and make sure you stick to it.
In most cases, cleaning playground equipment is easy and fast since all you need is soap and water. Avoid chemical cleaners because they may cause harm to the children. Use a sponge or wet cotton cloth to wipe all areas you can reach.
Cleaning should be thorough, especially in high traffic touchpoints. Such areas usually attract plenty of dirt, dust and also act as a breeding ground for germs and dangerous viruses. While regular cleaning is ideal for hygiene, it also makes your equipment look neat.
Consider decontaminating and disinfecting your play structures at least once a week. Decontamination and disinfection kill harmful bacteria, germs, and viruses that may be resistant to normal cleaning.
5. Make Repairs Quickly
Whenever you spot any damage, however small it may seem, make sure you perform repairs as quickly as possible. When you ignore the minor damages, you risk dealing with huge and costly damages in the future.
In some cases, the damage may become unrepairable, forcing you to replace the entire play structure. Luckily, most minor damages are relatively easy to handle, and you don’t need to hire an expert to help you.
However, if you try repairing the damage and notice it is too difficult for you, consider hiring a playground equipment expert to help you. Don’t force things because it can lead to more damage.
Your primary objective should be to ensure that the repairs are carried out effectively, and the equipment remains safe for children to use.
6. Ensure All Repairs Are Done Correctly
Identifying damages as early as possible and making repairs isn’t enough. You need to go one step further and ensure every repair job is handled correctly.
It means that if you are sourcing for spare parts, you need to make sure you get genuine parts and fix them correctly. Avoid low quality, counterfeit parts because they can cost you a lot of money in the long run.
Ensuring repairs are done correctly will keep the equipment well maintained and ensure the safety of kids using the play structure. It will also eliminate the need for constant repairs.
7. Have a Replacement Plan in Place
If your playground equipment is older than ten years, you may start to notice signs of constant tear and wear. In most cases, these are signs of ageing. The most reasonable thing to do in such a case is to develop a replacement plan, so you are well prepared when that time comes.
When it is time to replace your equipment, take time to shop around and identify the perfect replacement option. Consider a wide range of factors such as your kids’ age, frequency of use, the material used, and your kids’ needs.
It means that you can easily do away with a piece of equipment that is rarely used by your kids and replace it with something better.
Additionally, you should think about the overall playground layout issues, if any. One of the critical questions you need to ask yourself is whether your playground environment can accommodate the piece of equipment you are about to purchase.
Figuring out such things can save you a lot of money, make your work a little bit easier, and make your replacement process a huge success.
8. Maintain Recommended Levels of Playground Surfacing Material
Playground equipment maintenance isn’t just about the play structures. You also need to check your surfacing material regularly and ensure it is still in good condition.
Remember that your surfacing material plays a critical role, and it can be the difference between a bruise and severe injury in case of a fall.
Therefore, it is always good to budget for resurfacing, mainly if you use tire mulch, wood chips, or playground sand. Even if you don’t replace the material completely, ensure you have it raked and leveled regularly, especially under slides and swing sets.
Always check your local authority’s safety code regarding playground surfacing and adhere to it. Ensure the surfacing is in good condition even before you start worrying about the play structures.
Playgrounds play a critical role in bringing families and communities together. They get children and their parents out of their houses and into a deep connection and conversation with each other.
However, you can’t have a playground without playground equipment. Consequently, you cannot have safe playground equipment without proper maintenance.
You need to do everything possible to safeguard your little ones’ safety at the playground, and proper equipment maintenance is critical at all times.
To ensure your playground continues to provide valuable service to your children, take some time to develop a comprehensive playground equipment maintenance schedule.