Winter is a tough time for playgrounds. The cold weather can cause play equipment to deteriorate quickly, which means that you have to take extra care of it after winter has passed. If you don’t, your children will be playing on unsafe equipment all summer long.
So, how can you protect your playground equipment after winter? To keep your playground safe for use after winter, it’s important to take preemptive steps during the fall and after the winter months. This includes removing leaves and excess debris from play areas, thoroughly cleaning equipment with water-based solutions (e.g., rust remover) and applying corrosion inhibitors; storing all materials properly so they’re out of the way but easily accessible when spring rolls around; taking inventory of all necessary supplies such as sandpaper, saws, paint brushes, etc., and inspecting hardware.
This blog post will discuss the essential steps needed to protect your playground equipment after winter. We’ll talk about how snow removal affects the quality of your equipment, what kind of maintenance needs to happen for it not to get damaged during snow removal, and more!
The Importance of Winterizing Your Playground Equipment
Winterizing playground equipment refers to the process of protecting equipment from damage that may occur during the winter months.
This includes removing leaves and excess debris, thoroughly cleaning with water-based solutions to remove rust or other contaminants, applying corrosion inhibitors, storing all materials properly, so they’re out of the way but easily accessible for springtime repairs/maintenance, taking inventory of all necessary supplies, and inspecting hardware components.
Although it may seem like a lot of work, winterizing playground equipment is crucial to maintaining a safe and fun outdoor space for children to play all year long.
You need to keep in mind that nothing can be more damaging to your equipment than the common snow and ice during the winter months.
When snow and ice build-up on your equipment, it can damage surfaces and wear away paint or coatings, which leads to corrosion of metal parts. When this happens, you will need to remove the build-up manually by using a long-handled brush with stiff bristles (e.g., brass bristle) and/or a stiff-bristled broom.
In addition to removing snow and ice, you will also want to remove any excess debris from the play area so that children aren’t injured when they land on a branch or other piece of vegetation. You can do this by using a leaf blower with an adjustable nozzle to blow away debris.
Another essential step is thoroughly cleaning all surfaces with water-based solutions. If you’re using a pressure washer, make sure that the surface has no cracks or crevices that could allow high-speed water to damage internal parts of equipment such as hinges and joints.
Following these steps will keep your playground safe so children can play all summer long!
Steps to Protecting Your Playground Equipment after Winter
Now that you understand the effect of snow and ice on your playground equipment, let us look at some of the critical steps that you need to take to protect it.
1. Remove Leaves and Debris
Leaves, twigs, branches, and other debris can make play areas unsafe when children run around or climb on equipment.
You will want to remove leaves and debris with a leaf blower using an adjustable nozzle to minimize the impact on the surface of the equipment and nearby surfaces such as benches, gazebos, or picnic tables.
To make sure debris has been completely removed from play areas, use a leaf rake (i.e., square head yard rake with metal tines).
2. Ensure All Surfaces Are Thoroughly Cleaned
Thorough cleaning of all surfaces is the first step to protecting your playground equipment during and after winter.
Wash away dirt, rust, or other contaminants with a pressure washer using a low-speed setting on nozzles because high-speed water can damage internal parts such as hinges and joints.
When washing metal components, make sure you use a pH-neutral cleaner. For other surfaces, be sure to use cleaners that are safe for children and pets, such as those made from lemon or vinegar with no harsh chemicals.
3. Inspect Hardware Components and Store Supplies
It is also crucial to inspect hardware components, including nuts, bolts, screws, hinges, and locks, to ensure they are intact.
If any hardware components need replacing or repairing, you will want to purchase them in advance so that your playground equipment is ready for spring when children come back outside to play after winter!
When storing supplies such as bolts, nuts, and washers (i.e., lock washers), make sure they are completely dry before putting them away.
Even though you won’t be using these supplies until spring, it’s still important to keep track of what needs to go back into storage after winter so that everything is ready for the next season!
4. Treat All Wooden Playground Equipment before the First Freeze
Wood is particularly susceptible to damage during winter. So, it is essential to protect your wooden playground equipment before the first freeze.
To do this, clean all surfaces with a solution of 50% water and 50% white vinegar (i.e., ½ cup distilled white vinegar per gallon of water). Follow up by coating all surfaces with an oil-based preservative such as tung oil, linseed oil, or boiled linseed oil.
Once the preservative has dried to a cloudy haze (i.e., completely dry), you can lightly sand it using fine-grit sandpaper and apply another coat of preservative for added protection against moisture loss during winter months.
You will want to repeat this process every few months during and after the winter to maintain a protective layer.
If you don’t have time to do these steps right before hits, at least make sure your playground equipment is protected by sealing surfaces with paint or oil-based stain before the first freeze!
5. Ensure Your Equipment Isn’t in an Area Prone to Snow Drifts
The expansion puts extra pressure on joints that aren’t designed for such strain; this eventually leads to cracking or splitting along stress points on the wood.
To prevent this from happening, you will need to place your playground equipment away from areas prone to snowdrifts.
This way, the compacted layers of ice and snow aren’t able to stick around; instead, they melt once warm weather comes back in spring.
6. Buy a Sunshade for Your Equipment If You’re Going on Vacation
If you’re going on vacation and won’t be able to remove snow from your playground equipment, make sure you buy a sunshade for it.
This will prevent the snow and ice from sticking around so that there is less of a chance of damage occurring after winter!
Sunshade also prevents metallic equipment from getting too hot, minimizing sunburns when kids are playing. If you cannot afford to purchase a commercial sunshade, consider buying a tarp and tying it to the structure or using a tree shade.
7. Apply Anti-Slip Tape after Winter Season for Safe Play
Children can be very adventurous, which means they’ll want to play even during winter. During this time, you will need to make sure playground equipment offers safe footing so that kids don’t fall and get hurt.
To do this, apply anti-slip tape to all surfaces that are slippery such as metal slides. This will prevent children from slipping even if the ground is wet or icy!
When applying the anti-slip tape, follow product directions carefully (i.e., clean the surface before application).
If you have concrete or asphalt surfaces, consider purchasing environmentally-friendly tape that is non-toxic.
This will help keep children safe during the winter months while still being mindful of the environment!
How Can You Keep Your Kids Active During Winter?
The onset of the cold season doesn’t mean that all physical activities must come to a complete standstill. In fact, there are plenty of indoor activities that one can do with their children during the wintertime!
Some of the perfect indoor activities you can do with your children include indoor skating at the local ice rink, dancing around in a gym class to loud music, and playing active video games such as Mario Kart on Nintendo Wii.
You can also visit an indoor playground and enjoy playing with your children on some of the latest equipment that’s available. Indoor playgrounds are designed to provide kids with a wide range of physical activities throughout the year.
The most crucial thing is to ensure that you pick an indoor playground with a wide range of playground equipment that your children will love and enjoy playing on.
We hope you found these suggestions for protecting your playground equipment after winter helpful. And if you’re looking for other ways to keep kids active in the winter months, check out our other blog posts!