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Problem Solver - August 2010

Improving Safety Beneath Slides and Swings


o ensure your playground is safe, there are several steps you must take, including giving attention to age-appropriate equipment, the need for supervision and the importance of ongoing maintenance. And, with falls to the surface one of the most common causes of playground injury, you also need to pay careful attention to the surface beneath the equipment.

Q: We use mulch beneath our playground equipment to protect children from falls, but we constantly have to rake the material back under the runouts from slides and beneath the swings. How can we save resources while still keeping the playground safe?

A: It's wise to check regularly on your loose-fill materials, and to rake them back into place. You also likely will need to replenish the material from time to time.

But when it comes to the runouts of slides and the area under swings, you need to pay careful attention. Even a couple of hours after you've raked the material back into place, children at play can redistribute it, making these areas less safe and less accessible than they should be.

One option is a wear mat. Designed specifically for use under swings, at the exit and entrance to slides, around spinners and other high-traffic areas, these mats will complement your existing safety surface solution.

Their beveled edges and unique concave shape keep material in place underneath them. They can be installed on top of the surface keeping the area level and eliminating all kick-out, which means maximum accessibility and fall protection where it is needed most. This means less maintenance for your staff, and more safety for the kids who visit your site.

Q: We're concerned about phthalates and lead in certain materials. Are these mats safe for children?

A: You can find PVC mats that have been tested to ensure adherence to CPSC requirements for banned phthalates and lead levels. These mats are made of 60 percent recycled and 40 percent virgin PVC and can be molded into a variety of shapes.

And you can find an economical foam mat that adds fall protection due to its resilient foam base. The foam mats are made of closed-cell polyethylene foam thermally fused into a mat and then adhered to a durable vinyl cover for wearability.

Either way, you'll get a long-wearing solution that will reduce the need to rake loose fill back into high-traffic areas, while protecting kids where they need it most.


Zeager Bros. Inc.: 800-346-8524

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