A Complete Guide to Splash Pad Water Safety

Spray parks are usually made for children to have safe fun in the water, but accidents do occur. To help prevent them, it is up to supervising adults to follow the rules and instruct their children as well

Splash pads are usually a popular area for younger children to gather and play while visiting a water park. Their safety while playing on the splash pad, should be everyone’s highest priority, even if it seems like a relatively safe area.

Young children can drown in mere inches of water and minutes. Keeping a close eye on children while playing in the water is a high priority when considering their safety.

The safety of any while playing on a splash pad doesn’t fall just to the adults nearby, but also those who built the splash pad. Many guidelines and rules around splash pads are placed to keep everyone safe. Keep reading for the ultimate guide to splash pad water safety.

Safety Rules for Splash Pads

There are rules for all who are involved with either building or playing on a splash pad or in a spray park. Everyone is required to follow these to prevent any accidents from occurring and to keep the environment friendly to children. These rules should be posted in easily visible areas for all attendees to view.

Most rules are made explicitly for children, but adults are usually the ones that must direct them to do so. Most younger children will not realize that there are rules or are tempted to play seriously. To keep them safe, it is required to instruct them to the best of your ability.

Be Respectful

The most significant rule is to be aware that this is a public area that many are enjoying, so be courteous to others. Be respectful and share the available spaces. This is especially true since most spray parks don’t have lifeguards on hand since they don’t usually have standing water. This leaves the responsibility to those attending.

Adult Supervision

If you have a child under seven, then they must have an adult with them. This is to help them follow the rules as they are usually within the age group that is not yet aware of how to do so. This will also help to keep them safe while playing in the park area.

Food and Beverages

The main focus of this rule is to keep all food and drinks off the splash pad. There are usually seats or benches that can be used instead, but many children will carry things into the area without thinking about it.

A girl eating watermelons.
Instead of letting your kids carry food into the splash pad area, use seats or benches near the playground.

Alcohol And Drugs

This is one of the main rules that are only for adults. You are not allowed to have any alcoholic beverages or drugs on the premises. This area is a public area intended for children, so both of these are very understandable rules.

Weather Safety

These parks should have a system that will alert the park attendees if there is lightning nearby. All features will shut down automatically, and it is required that everyone leave the splash pad until otherwise notified. Depending on the severity of the weather, the park may be closed for the rest of the day or be opened within the next 30 minutes.

Showering Prior To Playing

The first rule that is usually forgotten is that you must take a shower prior to using the park. This may seem like a small rule but is for your protection and for others who are attending. This helps to keep the water cleaner and preventing any contamination on your skin from transferring to one of the toys in the area that you may interact with.

A baby splashing water.
To avoid water contamination and keep others safe, kids MUST take a shower before entering the splash pad area.

Water Rules

The majority of the rules are made for the areas that have water being sprayed. Specifically, they are made to keep the area safe and clean for any who are enjoying the park.

Bathroom

The main rule is to not use the area as a bathroom. This is more common among younger children who don’t know better, but this spreads sickness and can harm others. If you are sick or have diarrhea, you are not allowed in the area.

If you do have a child under the age of four, you are required to have them in a swim diaper. Even then, you must regularly check their diaper and clean it to prevent any water contamination.

Never Drink the Water

Along with the previous statement, you never know what other kids may have done in the area. Precautions are taken, but you should still avoid doing things like drinking the water, especially since the water contains chlorine, which is not recommended for consumption.

A kid getting some water.
Kids should never drink water directly from the splash pad area.

Spray Items

The majority of spray items are brightly colored with areas where children are able to play or adjust them. There are certain items that are clearly made to be climbed, but many children are tempted to either do it incorrectly or with the wrong items.

As an adult, you must keep an eye on them to prevent this from occurring. If a child uses the park in an incorrect way, then this could lead to injury. This is especially true since most of the items will involve water, causing them to be more slippery for children to grab.

Attraction Safety

This is an area that may be overlooked by the ones constructing the park since they are purchasing it from a separate seller. These attractions should be safe for children to interact with and be around typically.

Unfortunately, some design choices can be made without realizing the danger for curious children. These tend to be holes or gaps in interactive features that could result in pinched or trapped fingers.

These issues often come down to the adult who is watching over the child to identify and then properly notify the park.

How Are Splash Pads Built?

Splash pads are designed by an architect or engineer along with a landscape architect to provide the best park.  There is usually a pre-construction meeting where everyone involved meets up to discuss the details.

There are others that may be involved at times, but the main construction and design are usually left to the team above. A pool contractor may be consulted for more information concerning information on the pipes.

Construction

The construction of a spray park can take up to 12 months. This includes the initial design and discussions prior to the actual build occurring.

These steps are usually:

  • Initial plans
  • Component selection
  • Site layout
  • Engineer approval
  • Client and architect approval
  • Hardware shipped
  • Installation of hardware
  • Site preparation
  • Manufacture other components
  • Installation of other components
  • Park is opened

Accessibility

Since this is a park that tends to cater to children, the park is made to be easily used by them. The majority of parks are also created to allow any children in wheelchairs to enjoy as well. There are strict guidelines for engineers to follow to allow a handicapped person to maneuver around the park with ease.

One of these precautions is that no ground components are allowed to protrude into an accessible route. There are specific measurements the group must follow in these cases. Empty space is also required in all parks.

Safety Guidelines

There are multiple guidelines a construction group must take into consideration when building the park. These parks tend to not have lifeguards nearby due to the lack of standing water, but that doesn’t mean there are other areas of danger that could occur.

The group must identify these problem areas before any accidents do occur.

Weather System

There must be a system to notify the park when lightning is detected nearby. This will usually shut down all of the water and alert those in attendance of the danger. These warnings tend to require the area to be shut down for a certain length of time, with no lightning occurring before resuming normal operations.

A lightning.
Specific system should be used to detect lightning and warn parents about possible changes in weather.

Wading Pool

A fence is required in areas with more than two inches of water since these are then considered wading pools. These are areas that children have a possibility of drowning in, even if it is two inches deep.

Drain Caution

To prevent unexpected wade pools from occurring, all drains must have an overflow limit. This is particularly crucial if a drain is blocked, and water begins to rise to a two-inch depth. The park must have an alternate drain to prevent such issues. However, these alternate drainage methods must not cause dangerous suction while still being large enough to deal with the issue.

A drainage hole.
Overflow limit of drains will avoid undesirable paddles in the park.

Preventing Illness

The biggest issue in these areas is having children going to the bathroom while using enjoying the park. The parks are required to constantly check the chlorine that is being used to clean the water to make sure it is still doing its job sufficiently. Other methods are becoming popular, including using an ultraviolet system.

A parent cheking her kids temperature.
Keeping bathrooms clean will keep kids safe from various illnesses.

Many parks have switched from using recirculated water to prevent such issues from occurring. Instead, the water is sent to a wastewater treatment plant or to irrigate the landscape. This allows the water to still be used efficiently while preventing any sickness from occurring.

Inspection and Maintenance

To keep the spray parks in their highest standard of safety and health, there is a regular inspection that occurs for the park. These depend on the park, but there is a long list of requirements that the inspector will follow.

Maintenance

To pass the inspection, you must first have quality staff who follows the rules and knows what they are doing. Each item at the park requires a different kind of care at different times. Some items only need to be checked monthly, while others must be cleaned or looked over daily.

Safety Pad

This is the most important part of a spray park because it provides traction and some cushion for children. They must be properly maintained to keep the proper amount of traction and cleanliness.

If a pad is not cleaned, then it may lose the proper traction. They must be sprayed with bleach and then wiped down regularly. They will usually be cleaned in tandem with any of the components in the spray park.

If there is no fencing around the pad, then they will need to be surveyed for anything that may have ended up on it. This could be pets or debris that had ended up on the pad.

Water Testing

Another of the main focusses when maintaining the park is testing the water. Testing the water itself is a common occurrence to help prevent any illness from developing in the tanks. This often includes having the chlorine tested multiple times a day to make sure it is up to the correct standard.

A professional testing the content of the water.
Testing the water regularly will prevent water tanks from contamination and decrease the chances of sickness in kids.

When the water is being treated, it is required for everyone to leave the safety pad for 15 to 20 minutes. This is usually plenty of time to allow the chlorine to finish and be dissipated with the water.

Winter

The spay park will most likely not be in use over the winter, so maintenance is not required as often. However, it must still be looked over to prevent any damage from occurring during the winter.

Before you close the park for winter, it must be winterized. This generally means that all hoses must be capped and everything shut down properly. This is to help keep water from freezing in the pipes and causing them to burst or become damaged.

The main maintenance required during the winter is to clean the components every two months. During the winter, they must be wrapped to help protect them, but they must still be polished during this time.

Inspection

During an inspection, the splash pad must be examined thoroughly. If there were any previous issues with the splash pad, then they should be corrected and examined at the beginning of the inspection.

An inspection usually involves looking overall equipment to make sure it is running properly and that the water is draining. It is ensuring that nothing is falling or coming apart over time, which may cause dangerous edges. There are even inspections on the overall system to make sure everything is up to code.

Why Should I Visit a Splash Pad?

Many of the safety guidelines may scare newer parents or guardians. This is an area with a lot of children and no lifeguard supervision typically. There are many reasons that adults enjoy bringing their children to spray parks.

Standing Water

You will find that most spray parks are stand-alone features with no pools of standing water available. These parks are made specifically for younger children who may not be able to swim at all or minimally. The lack of standing water is supposed to prevent drowning from occurring, but it is still recommended to stay near your child to stop any accidents.

A kid beside the pool.
To avoid drowning accidents, there are no pools in splash pad parks.

Colorful Attractions

These parks will usually have colorful and interactive components that children love. Turning a knob could make the water pressure of a spout increase or decrease. There are usually smaller items that can be climbed on in a certain way.

Children love these parks and can stay entertained for hours while their adult supervision is watching nearby.

This is the perfect solution for kids who enjoy playing in the water, without the danger of swimming. Most children prefer running around pools, so this is the perfect solution to their adventurous and water needs.

Safety Pad

Safety pads are the textured pads that are that you will find underneath the water attractions. These are usually soft and allow for protection for children who may fall over. The surface will cushion their fall and also provide traction even under areas with water raining down.

This is one of the main reasons people enjoy bringing their children to these parks. The safety feature allows the children to move as they want while keeping them safe.

Splash Pad Types and Attractions

Most parents who visit spray parks with children will choose one that has no standing water. However, there are parks available that have deeper pools. These are usually limited to zero-depth, beach entry, constant depth, or a mixture of all three.

Along with this, each park will have a different variety of attractions that children can play with. It is usually recommended to have a mixture of different equipment to provide the best experience for children.

Park Types

Spray parks are most popular in stand-alone, zero-depth layout. However, there are other options that are more popular in the larger pool or amusement park areas.

Zero-Depth

This is the park that parents with younger children tend to prefer. It offers the most safety due to its lack of standing water and is usually the easiest park to keep an eye on your child. Along with this, most adults in the area will also be watching their own children. This usually results in fewer accidents or hectic situations from occurring.

These are also the parks that are usually called splash pads. This is due to the ground being entirely made of a splash pad and should have no standing water.

This biggest downside to this park is that there is a distinct lack of things for adults to do or enjoy. The main enjoyment is being able to cool down in the water spray or by enjoying the children playing.

Beach-Entry

This is typically seen with the standing water parks due to the slight incline into the pool. This is a feature that has become more common in the majority of even normal pools. It provides a shallow area for children to play with a deeper portion for older children or adults to enjoy.

Constant Depth

The biggest concern for this option is for  younger children. These pools can be much deeper than is necessary for them to drown in, so it will involve even more vigilance while watching over children.

This is especially true since there will be older kids around that may influence a younger child to imitate.

These parks are usually found in an amusement park or already built pool.  These tend to be catered towards older children who are able to swim sufficiently and avoid drowning in shallow pools. The attractions are usually more interactive, but also more dangerous for young children.

Most adults prefer this style if their children are old enough to supervise themselves somewhat. It is still required to watch your children, but they are usually at an age that they have more freedom. This means the adults are able to relax more and sit in the shallow water if they would like to cool down.

This is also a great option to prevent children from running. The water will slow down the children and prevent them from harming themselves further.

Mixture of All

These parks will usually have a designated standing water area that will have some fencing to warn off younger children. This is a relatively common style that allows all ages of children to enjoy any type of park that they may prefer.

Attraction Types

There is a large variety of attractions that could be included in a park, especially depending on the age group the spray park is catered towards. These usually have interactive features that have different outcomes depending on the type.

Splash Pad Park

These attractions tend to be made for children that are younger and aren’t able to interact fully with the equipment. Along with this, the features are generally much safer and have less risk involved.

Aquatons

The equipment under this company tends to vary from that standard tipping buckets to interactive water shooters. These all tend to come in various shapes and colors to provide the most visual appeal for the children.

They do have other attractions, the majority of which involve water spraying with minimal interaction. This is a popular theme among most of the equipment found in parks with no standing water.

Water Tipper

Like the previous one, a lot of these attractions feature water tipping over from a bucket above. However, they also have a larger version of the standard bucket tipping over. This usually involves a large container filling with water, before being tipped unto a short slope before pouring onto the splash pad.

Aquanetics

These sprayers tend to make patterns with the water being shot out. They come from uniquely shaped attractions, and children able to enjoy the mesmerizing look of water that is almost dancing as it’s sprayed.

A sprayers in splash pad areas.
Some sprayers in splash pad areas shoot out water and look like dancing fountains.

Lab Attraction

This is a highly interactive attraction for young children. Many adults enjoy assisting children with the use of this tiered feature. By pushing and pulling levers, children are able to move the water from one basin to another while learning what the reaction of their action is.

Characters

Most parks have different figures standing around with water spraying from them. These are usually mascots for the park or a fun way for children to interact with themed characters.

Most parks also have different kinds of creatures that are set into the ground as if rising from the water. This could be a dolphin, whale, octopus, or even an underwater serpent. Some of these are meant to be climbed on or used as a slide.

However, not all are made for this. Being aware of which ones a child should be climbing on is important for their safety.

Playground

The biggest feature in most spray parks or splash pads is the interactive playground set. These usually feature typical decks and slides that you may find at any playground. Depending on the age group that is expected to use the equipment, the set may be larger or smaller.

A outdoor playground.
Splash pad areas commonly comprise typical playground equipment pieces as well.

Before locating a park, make sure it is catered to the correct age group. Parks designed for older age groups will have a larger playset that young children have a chance of being injured on.

Spray Park Equipment

The equipment found in a spray park tends to be catered towards an older audience that can handle more interactive attractions. These are not recommended for younger children due to the level of the difficulty some of these may require.

Overall Attractions

The majority of the attractions are very similar to the ones provided in the splash pad area. The main difference is that they often require more interaction and aren’t made for young children. The biggest difference other than the interaction level would be the scale of the equipment.

Items in spray parks tend to be larger due to the older audience. The buckets pouring water may be bigger, meaning more water and more pressure. For younger children, this could be dangerous, which is why they are usually only featured in parks made for an older age group.

Playground

These sets are often much larger than the ones found in splash pad areas. They require a different level of difficulty to traverse and have many more interactive pieces.

These types of parks do have lifeguards due to the standing water that is usually present. If the slide on the set is large enough, then there will also be a lifeguard present to monitor the timing between each child.

Final Thoughts

When attending a spray park, the party most responsible for a child is their parent or guardian. These areas are usually made for children to have safe fun in the water, but accidents do occur. To help prevent them, it is up to supervising adults to follow the rules and instruct their children as well.

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