Feature Article - January 2009
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Safe Havens

Building & Maintaining Safe Playgrounds

By Richard Zowie

Sun Protection
Good for More Than Skin

While shade structures, trees and other means of providing shade on the playground are important to protect sensitive young skin from exposure to the sun's harmful UV rays, as well as from burns from contact with hot play equipment, there are other reasons to consider shading your play structures.

"What is less obvious is the protection shade provides to the playground equipment itself, thereby extending its life substantially when you consider all the plastics and coatings used on modern play equipment," said Alan Bayman, president of a Florida-based manufacturer of shade structures. "These are susceptible to deterioration from constant exposure to the sun, so when you significantly reduce the UV rays hitting playground equipment, you extend its life."

And it's not just the equipment that gains this protection, but also the surface beneath it—especially if it's a rubberized surfacing, which can often be a larger investment than the playground equipment itself, Bayman explained.

"Extending the lives of these two high-cost investments—especially in these days of budget cutbacks and frugality—makes good economic sense," Bayman said. "In fact, the savings in replacement costs for expensive playground equipment and its related rubberized surfacing can partially or wholly offset the initial investment for the shade. Then the health benefits of shade just become icing on the cake!"

-Emily Tipping