Before we get too far into winter, it’s important to have a maintenance plan for your playground because ice, snow and rain can make your equipment more hazardous. But just because it's winter doesn’t mean your park will sit abandoned. If there is a mild day, one of the first things families will do is head outdoors for fresh winter air.
Instead of shutting down your playground, follow these five tips to keep it safe during the winter.
1. Start thinking about winter maintenance now.
The best way to safeguard your playground in the winter is to take the appropriate preventive measures. Before the first snow, give your park playground equipment a quick inspection to make sure everything is safe and secure. If your playground has water equipment, be sure to clear and drain the lines. Also check for any loose hardware.
2. Inspect the playground surfacing.
Wet, snowy weather conditions can easily wash away your loose-fill playground surfacing. Therefore, it’s important to check the surfacing once a week to make sure it still provides appropriate impact attenuation.
Poured rubber may not wash away like loose-fill surfacing, but it can also suffer damage from the winter weather. Cold temperatures may cause the rubber to expand and contract, causing cracking. Unfortunately, these cracks can cause trip hazards and are unsafe.
3. Have a plan for clearing snow and ice.
When it does rain or snow, you’ll need to have a plan to come out and clean the playground. If you let snow build up, it will put stress on your equipment. Snow may be removed manually or with a de-icer.
Also be aware of temperatures that go above freezing. The constant cycle of freezing and thawing is what leads to cracks. Regularly checking in with your playground keeps it safe and prolongs the lifespan of your equipment.
4. Use ice melt cautiously.
If you do decide to use chemicals to remove ice or snow, make sure it’s safe for children and for your equipment. Kids are often crawling on the ground, so applying chemicals can make them sick. These chemicals can also degrade and damage your playground equipment and surfacing. As long as you manually remove the snow and ice, there should be no need for chemicals.
5. Remove and store shade canopies.
Although shade canopies provide sun and wind protection, they should not be left out in the winter. The weight of the snow can easily cause the canopy to collapse. Even if the canopy survives the snowfall, it still puts stress on the parts and hardware. To protect your canopy, take it apart and store it somewhere safe for the winter.
Winter takes a toll on playground equipment because of the snow, ice, rain and extreme temperatures. But nice days will still pop up, which means people will be using your equipment. To keep your playground safe and extend the lifespan of your equipment, follow the five tips above.