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Playground Surfacing: Solution or Mistake

At one point in time, we were all little kids. Whether we were at school or enjoying the weekend with no major responsibilities, our definition of a good time included a playground. Developers who create playgrounds all around the world understand the importance of safety being the main priority. However, are there some methods that construction workers and creators have neglected? Or are we being over protective of our kids and over thinking the situation?

Playground surfacing includes the creation and purpose in which provides stability and safety. Throughout history, playgrounds were filled with dirt or paved with asphalt. However, due to the numerous amounts of injuries that occurred, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission stated that sand would be a better alternative. It was reported that 80%-95% of all injuries that occurred on playgrounds were due to fall-related instances. Since that became an evident problem, the solution would seem like an easy fix, right?

Sand became the next best option… but did not serve as much of an alternative than it was projected to do. Throughout experimental testing, sand actually scored low test scores, and designers began searching for the next best thing.

Designers began to implement rubber surfacing and wood chips in hopes of figuring out the best solution to prevent injuries as much as possible. Mats and poured-in-place (PIP) were the next options. Although the cost of production was not the most appealing, the best seemed like the most logical after careful consideration.

That is until more problems arose (which happens with any new method development). Wood chips were becoming exposed and putting children more at risk than they were at the beginning of playground surfacing.

After multiple ideas had been thrown out between developers and parents wondering how safe the playground actually was for their children to play in, the question arose… is there a proper playground surfacing solution? Or will we keep making mistakes?

Those questions are actually a double edge sword. The material that playgrounds consist of obviously plays a major role into safety and hazard concerns. There is no way that any area of a playground can be developed and provide 100% results in no injuries. Now that runs into the next question and answer. Parents (and adults who supervise children in proper areas such as schools) have to understand that kids can do things to cause their own injuries. It is important to make sure that we always keep a close eye on the kids' surroundings, in addition to how they interact during playtime and with the equipment on the playgrounds.

No one is at fault as we do our best to provide a safe and fun environment for our children. All we can do is, teach them proper ways to have fun on certain playground equipment. We also need to make sure that they know what adult(s) to contact in the case of an emergency situation.

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