Summer Maintenance Tips for School Playgrounds
During summer break, students across the country enjoy their break from schoolwork. With the halls empty, school officials can consider summer playground maintenance.
Summer is the perfect time for playground maintenance and repairs. It’s critical to make your playground a safe environment for your students to play in. By focusing on playground equipment maintenance during the slow summer months, you can minimize the risk of preventable injuries to the children in your care.
Read the full article or jump to a specific section:
- Complete Your Playground’s Regular Inspection
- Complete Playground Repairs As Soon As Possible
- Address Storm Damage and Other Natural Hazards
- Ensure Proper Drainage
- Repair Fences and Benches
- Check All Surfacing
- Eliminate Troublesome Pests
- Check Playground Equipment Maintenance Off Your School’s To-Do List
How to Maintain Playground Equipment
Playground equipment is susceptible to normal wear and tear over time and can be damaged when bad weather rolls through. You should take care of the equipment regularly to keep kids safe while they use the playground. Proper care and maintenance can also help extend the play equipment’s life, so students can enjoy the benefits of your playground for years and you can avoid preventable repairs.
Play equipment maintenance can be easy once you establish what you should be looking for. Many playground manufacturers have a recommended inspection and maintenance plan for specific playground components. However, if you’re unsure about how to maintain your playground equipment, start by developing a customized playground equipment maintenance checklist.
Listed below are our suggestions for items to include on your checklist to keep your playground as safe as possible.
Regularly Inspect Playground Equipment
While the grounds and play equipment should be inspected daily for health and safety hazards, you can also conduct a thorough annual inspection each summer. Whether someone on staff examines your playground or you hire an outside professional inspector, regular inspections of the equipment and surrounding area are essential to your students’ safety.
Some safety concerns to look out for include:
- Broken equipment, including loose or worn parts.
- Litter and debris within the play yard, such as trash, broken glass, and other hazardous items.
- Vandalism and other signs of inappropriate use of the playground area.
- Hidden dangers in the sandbox or loose surfacing.
Once the inspection is complete, take note of any necessary repairs so that these can be taken care of before the school year starts.
Complete Playground Equipment Repairs as Soon as Possible
Make sure you are proactive with necessary playground repairs. Summer is an ideal time for maintenance because it gives you plenty of time to address problems before the kids return to school.
If you find potential issues early on in the summer, try to have your repairs completed as soon as possible. Even minor problems with your playground equipment can lead to major danger for your students as they play. Give repair workers time to order new parts and complete the fix. Being proactive will let you complete your playground equipment repairs before the school reopens.
Address Storm Damage and Other Natural Hazards
From furious thunderstorms to hurricane season, severe storms often roll through during the summer months. This type of weather may leave behind debris that could be hazardous, including large branches and fallen playground equipment.
Even without a storm, new natural hazards can appear overnight, which could cause harm to children. These include:
- Low-hanging or sharp branches
- Loose rocks
- Exposed tree roots
Checking for storm damage shortly after the storm passes is crucial to preventing further damage or possible injuries. Be sure to address any natural hazards quickly.
Another potential hazard from heavy rain or summer storms is standing water, which can occur when playgrounds lack proper drainage. Standing water and improperly drained playground surfaces can lead to illness or injury among your students. Standing water can also damage your playground surfacing, which can lead to costly repairs. Check that your play area is draining properly after heavy rains to help prevent damage and injuries.
Repair Fences and Benches
The playground’s equipment is an obvious source of concern. However, some schools forget to include fences and benches in their playground maintenance plans, so be sure to regularly check their condition. Fences can have holes or bent portions which need fixing, while benches or other types of seating can develop splinters. These should either be repaired or replaced as needed.
Check All Surfacing
As you inspect your playground’s surroundings, remember to check that the surfacing material is in good condition with soft landing areas and no tripping hazards.
Whether your school uses wood fiber, rubber mulch, or artificial turf, the material needs to be in good condition to minimize the risk of injuries like broken bones or head trauma. Worn or uneven surfacing material needs to be repaired, raked, or replaced. Some loose-fill surfaces can become compressed or scattered over time, so you may need to top them off with additional material.
Depending on your playground’s surfacing type, you can inspect your surfacing for specific issues:
- Engineered Wood Fiber: Engineered wood fiber is a popular and budget-friendly surfacing option for many playgrounds. As you inspect it for safety, check for an even depth throughout the play area. Engineered wood fiber provides a cushion for kids and the proper depth must be maintained throughout your playground. If you find thinner areas, add more mulch to keep the area safe.
- Poured-in-place rubber: Another popular surfacing choice is poured-in-place rubber. This option is highly durable and comes in various colors and designs. It’s also a softer option, creating a cushioned surface for kids. However, the surfacing might degrade and develop holes or other safety hazards. Be sure to inspect the rubber for holes or other flaws. If you notice any, fill them in as soon as you can.
- Bonded rubber: Your playground might also feature bonded rubber, which is often made of shredded rubber mulch. Bonded rubber helps give playgrounds a natural aesthetic. Although they are very durable, you need to inspect them for hazards or damages regularly. It’s important to check these surfaces for missing pieces or cracks.
You should consider hiring a Certified Playground Safety Inspector (CPSI) to examine your playground thoroughly. These professionals can provide a complete report on your playground’s safety status and advise you on the next steps to take.
Eliminate Troublesome Pests
Playground equipment can play host to a number of uninvited pests during the summer months. Bees, wasps, ants, and more might try to move in, creating a real danger when students return.
You should have pest control professionals safely remove any nests. If you find honeybees, you may want to contact a beekeeper to preserve your local bee population.
You can also implement regular pest prevention techniques to keep bugs away. One way to prevent nesting bugs is to keep your playground thoroughly clean. Complete tasks like these regularly:
- Mowing grass
- Trimming hedges
- Replacing surfacing when needed
- Sweeping or hosing down play equipment
- Cutting back weeds
Consistent actions like those can help prevent bugs from gathering in your play area.
The Importance of Regular Playground Inspections
Though you likely have a long list of school maintenance tasks to carry out to prepare the building for the upcoming school year, playground inspections should be at the top of your list.
Playground equipment should be treated as an extension of the classroom, as students learn valuable skills through unstructured play. Classrooms are kept in quality conditions to provide a safe learning environment, and the same should be done with your playground. Regularly conducting an inspection of playground equipment reassures you that your students are playing on safe materials and getting the best play experience possible.
Because playgrounds are so beneficial for kids, routine maintenance is essential. Students need a functional and safe playground so they can receive the valuable health and cognitive benefits of outdoor play. At the very least, you should have your playground inspected once a year, and summer is the best time to do so. Of course, the more frequently you check the equipment’s condition, the more likely you are to find and repair an issue before it creates a bigger problem.
Check Playground Equipment Maintenance off Your School’s To-Do List
By taking the time to complete your school’s playground maintenance and repairs during the summer months, you’ll be ready for playful students by the time the new school year starts.
During your inspections, you may realize some older playground equipment may need to be replaced. We invite you to contact us at Little Tikes Commercial to request a quote for new equipment that will meet all your school’s safety requirements while engaging your students with its fun and innovative design.