Playgrounds

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This topic contains 12 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  Megan 3 years, 6 months ago.

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  • #2039

    Megan
    Moderator

    More than half of the calls, e-mails and other inquiries we get at the RICCELFF are related to outdoor space. This makes us very happy since outdoor space is one of our favorite things to talk about! Kids need to play! Kids need to spend time outdoors! Kids need opportunities to interact with the natural world! And, of course, we should always do all that we can to keep kids safe. We know that unfortunately many of the child care and early learning center playgrounds in Rhode Island don’t offer the kind of enriching environments that enhance children’s development and in many cases are also not safe. What are your questions about creating better play spaces and what are your ideas for making that happen?! In addition to posting questions, we would love to hear your great ideas for improving outdoor play spaces and see photos of some of the fun thing you have done at your centers.

  • #2058

    Anonymous

    I keep hearing the term “natural playground”. What does this mean? Last summer we had the children grow potted plants on the playground. Does that make it a natural playground? Someone also mentioned that they were working on building an “adventure playground”, is this the same thing?

    • #2064

      Megan
      Moderator

      Both natural playground and adventure playgrounds focus less on including traditional playground structures and more on creating a diverse range of open-ended play experiences for children. Instead of seeing large climbing structures you might see water features, things to build with, art activities, gardening activities, and places to run and play creative games. There is a wealth of great information on developing these types of playground spaces. And the benefits are endless! We encourage programs to visit the playground section of our resource library to explore this topic. We also encourage centers who have developed these types of playgrounds to post photos and ideas here!

  • #2059

    Anonymous

    I have heard there are some sort of national safety guidelines for playgrounds. How do I find those?

    • #2065

      Megan
      Moderator

      That is the National Program for Playground Safety. You can visit their website here: http://www.playgroundsafety.org/. On the site you will find links to standards, research, training and you can also search for a “Certified Playground Safety Inspector”!

      • This reply was modified 3 years, 6 months ago by  Megan.
  • #2178

    Tracyliscsm
    Participant

    We are looking at doing playground surfacing, do you have any referrals for licensed playground contractors?

    • #2183

      RICCELFF
      Moderator

      Please contact Megan Ressler at the RICCELFF at mressler@lisc.org or 401.331.0131 x11 and she can provide you with a list of companies we are familiar with who do playground design work and who serve as vendors for playground equipment including surfacing. When considering playground surfacing please be aware that there are many different types of surfacing that meet safety requirements. You can learn more about surfacing types in our Playground Resource Guide available in our on-line resource library.

      When considering new surfacing for your playground please keep in mind that surfacing is only one component of a safe and versatile outdoor space that fully supports high quality programming. Before replacing surfacing you want to be certain that equipment is age appropriate, meets all safety standards and is placed with appropriate fall zones. You also want to be sure that the current playground layout provides for a full array of activities that support your program in providing a well-rounded experience for children.

  • #2876

    Anonymous
    Participant

    I just got my Playground Safety Inspection. What do I do now?

    • #2879

      Megan
      Moderator

      Your inspection/audit report should note any non-compliant issues or deficiencies, identifying a priority hazard rating on a scale of Level 1-5, with 1 being the most hazardous. The definition of each of those hazards is as follows:

      Level 1 Priority Hazard
      A readily accessible hazard that would cause an accident that would result in: death, brain damage, permanent paralysis, loss of vision, loss of speech, loss of limb, or organ destruction. Condition should be corrected immediately.

      Level 2 Priority Hazard
      Serious injury resulting in temporary disability. Condition should be corrected as soon as possible.

      Level 3 Priority Hazard
      Minor (Non-Disabling Injury). Condition should be corrected when time permits.

      Level 4 Priority Hazard
      Potential for Injury is minimal. Condition should be corrected if it worsens.

      Level 5 Priority Hazard
      Existing condition is compliant.

      Once you understand each of the concerns identified on your inspection report, you can create a plan and a time schedule that addresses these issues, focusing on taking care of the Level 1 hazards immediately. This could include removal of the unsafe element, repair of the unsafe element (in consultation with a Certified Playground Safety Inspector), or closure of the unsafe element (using temporary fencing or caution tape).

      If you are unclear about what makes a playground safe, please download a free copy of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission – Public Playground Safety Handbook here.

      • This reply was modified 3 years, 6 months ago by  Megan.
  • #2877

    Anonymous
    Participant

    What is the difference between a playground audit and an inspection?

    • #2881

      Megan
      Moderator

      A playground safety audit is a one-time process that focuses on compliance with the current standard of care. Unless your program contains only brand new equipment that was purchased from a knowledgeable manufacturer and installed by a certified installer, your playground is due for a safety audit. The purpose of the audit is to identify non-conforming products and designs, installation problems and environmental hazards that could pose long term health risks to children (based on the CPSC guidelines and ASTM standards).

      Some of the items covered in a safety audit include:
      • Entrapment- Any condition that impedes the withdrawal of a body part from an opening
      • Protrusions- A projection that has the potential to cause bodily injury
      • Layout- Age and activity separation, site lines, and supervision
      • Surfacing- The depth of surfacing based on the height of the equipment

      A playground safety audit should be conducted by a Certified Playground Safety Inspector.

      A playground safety inspection is conducted at regular intervals and focuses on immediate hazards caused by aging or damaged equipment. There are many factors that contribute to the need for maintenance, such as:
      • Physical wear
      • Environmental factors
      • Vandalism

      Child care centers should design maintenance inspection programs based on the manufacturer’s instructions for maintaining their equipment. Heavily used components will require more frequent inspections and preventative maintenance should be ongoing.
      Documentation makes it easier to keep on top of your maintenance needs. Develop short term and long term plans and a budget line for your outside, gross moto space. Keep a binder of your audit and regular inspections to formalize your commitment to safety for the children in your care.
      A playground safety inspection should be conducted by a Certified Safety Inspector or a well trained staff person.

      • This reply was modified 3 years, 6 months ago by  Megan.
      • This reply was modified 3 years, 6 months ago by  Megan.
  • #2878

    Anonymous
    Participant

    Are the inspections by DCYF and Bright Stars (Environmental Rating Scales) considered valid playground safety inspections?

    • #2882

      Megan
      Moderator

      When we talk about a “Playground Safety Inspection,” we are referring to an inspection conducted by a Certified Playground Safety Inspector utilizing the standards outlined in the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (USPSC) and the Public Playground Safety Handbook. A Certified Playground Safety Inspector will have a valid certification number and conducts the inspection in accordance with nationally accepted criteria. Both DCYF and Bright Stars look at playgrounds as one aspect of the things they review during on-site visits. However, neither entity conducts actual playground inspections. Staff from DCYF and BrightStars use standards that are based on the USPSC playground safety guidelines and so they may identify some key safety items to be aware of during their visits, however, this does not, in any way, substitute for an actual inspection or audit by a certified inspector. Learn more on the topic of safety inspections by reviewing our FAST FACTS document on the topic.

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