Make the Most Out of the Park Playground This Winter
As fall turns into winter, we all start to spend more time inside. However, no matter the season, it’s still important to find ways to stay active and head outside for some fresh air. For families with young children, playgrounds are an ideal option all year round, even during the winter.
Enjoying the playground with your kids during the colder months does require a few extra considerations for safety. If you’re in charge of maintaining a playground, taking a few simple steps will help you keep your playground a safe place for kids all winter long.
Benefits of Winter Playground Play
During the winter months, many of us spend more time indoors. However, there are many ways to safely play outside. Additionally, continuing to use the playground and spend time outside even in winter can have several positive benefits for kids and their families. Consider these reasons, and encourage kids and families to keep using your playground all winter:
- Sunshine: Even in the snow and cold, exposure to sunshine can help improve the mood and provide a boost of vitamin D. In the winter months, it can be harder to get enough vitamin D, so the playground provides the perfect place to be able to get outside and soak up some winter sunshine.
- Fresh air: Indoor air can feel stale and stifling when all the windows and doors are closed to keep out the cold. Getting outside gives you access to fresh, clean air.
- Physical exercise: It can be hard for kids to get in enough physical activity inside during the winter. Even with home gym equipment and yoga videos, kids just need to run around outside to burn off that energy and stretch their muscles. Playgrounds are a fun way to do this, even in winter.
- Change of pace: Being stuck inside can give anyone feelings of cabin fever, and going outside gives a nice change of scenery to break up the monotony of indoor playtime.
- Imagination: The scenery around the playground can give kids a different perspective and just may spark their imagination for new ways to play. Seeing the same playground equipment in different conditions can make everything seem fresh and interesting again, and may inspire new, creative play ideas.
Winter Playground Safety for Kids
Safety practices are important all year round at the playground, but winter brings some special concerns to watch for. Before you send your kids to the playground, take a look to make sure the playground equipment has been properly maintained and is clear of snow, ice, and standing water. Adult supervision is also especially important in winter, when younger children may not understand the dangers of freezing temperatures. Here are the main safety concerns to watch for on playgrounds in the winter:
- Slippery snow and ice: Frozen puddles, hard-packed snow, and icy patches on playgrounds can be extremely dangerous. It’s essential to watch for snow and ice around playgrounds and to remove as much as possible. Playgrounds coated in thick ice should be avoided until the ice has melted enough to be safe.
- Cold temperatures: Severe winter weather can come with extremely cold temperatures. Be mindful of the weather forecasts and outside temperatures before sending kids out to play. Ensure kids are dressed properly for the weather, and keep kids inside if the temperatures are dangerously low. Any adults supervising the playground should be aware of the warning signs of hypothermia and frostbite, and watch for these dangerous conditions.
- Loose-fitting clothing and drawstrings: Kids playing outside in the winter should be properly bundled up to keep warm. However, clothing should fit properly. Items that are loose-fitting clothing and dangling should be avoided. Baggy jackets, long scarves, and long drawstrings on sweatshirts and jackets can pose a strangulation hazard if caught in playground equipment while running around. Encourage children to tuck in loose edges and zip up their jackets.
Winter Playground Maintenance
If you are responsible for maintaining a playground, there are some special considerations to keep everything in tip-top shape during the winter:
- Inspect all playground equipment: As fall turns into winter, it’s a great time to perform a basic inspection of all of the equipment and playground components. Check for any safety concerns and any equipment that has been damaged or is wearing out. It’s much easier to make any necessary repairs before the winter weather sets in, so make arrangements to fix or replace any broken parts now. Be sure to check your playground equipment regularly even after winter arrives since snow and ice can cause damage as well.
- Clear away any standing water: With colder winter temperatures, standing water has the potential to turn into slippery patches of ice. Check your playground for any puddles and remove water and snow wherever possible. Keep all play areas as dry as you can to avoid any slips and falls and so that moisture doesn’t freeze into ice.
- Remove snow on and around the playground: Throughout the winter, make arrangements for snow removal on and around the playground. For safety, the playground should be free of snow and ice, especially around equipment with fall heights. Snow is not considered a safe play surface material for fall heights and should be cleared to avoid injury.
- Add non-slip mats at doorways: If your playground is near your building, like at a school, church, or community center, adding some non-slip doormats is a good idea. These mats can help soak up some of the water and prevent slips and falls from anyone walking in after playing on a wet playground.
- Consider removing some detachable playground elements: In certain areas where the winter weather is especially harsh, you may want to remove some playground elements for the season. This could include swings, canopies, and other removable components. This protects your equipment from the harsh winter weather conditions.
Quality Playground Equipment for Year-Round Fun
Make the most of playgrounds all year round, including through the winter. Our high-quality play structures are built with durability and safety in mind, and they help to encourage children’s imagination and sense of adventure too. We offer a wide variety of fun, innovative playground equipment, as well as totally customized options.
Whether you need a new playground built from scratch or a few replacement options, Little Tikes Commercial can take your playground to the next level. To ensure your playground is ready for winter fun, contact your Little Tikes Commercial representative for an inspection today.