Making Playgrounds a Safer Place to Play

May 16, 2019
Blog M Playground Safety Audits 2019

Written by Carly Picard, CPSI, Landscape Designer

For children of all ages, this is a beautiful time of year to get outside and take advantage of a local playground. If you are responsible for managing your community’s park facilities, this may also be a good time to identify opportunities for improvement. Even the most well designed playground can present safety issues if incorrectly installed, broken or damaged, and physically worn due to time and weather. Playground equipment is designed to last for several years with proper maintenance, but over time, all deteriorate. Unless this damage is recognized and addressed, it may threaten the health and wellbeing of users, including young children. Milone & MacBroom (MMI) provides a variety of playground facility services, including proactive safety audits, regularly scheduled inspections, maintenance planning, public education and outreach, and design services for improvements. Contact us today to discover how we can ensure that your playgrounds are attractive, safe, and fun for all user groups.

Mill Ridge Elementary School Playground

Playground Safety Audits and Inspections
While playgrounds are much safer environments than they were 25 years ago, a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that more than 20,000 children ages 14 and younger visit emergency rooms for playground-related traumatic brain injuries each year. As parks and recreation design professionals, we often work with municipalities toward improving the safety of public play environments. While some safety issues are easy to identify, many aren’t obvious to the average person. Our team of experts, including certified playground safety inspectors, has been trained to identify potential safety issues in existing playground facilities. MMI staff regularly conduct playground safety audits for park and school playgrounds for clients including the City of Danbury, CT. A playground safety audit is a one-time process focused on compliance with the current standards of care from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and American Society for Testing and Materials. Following the safety audit, we will develop a course of corrective action that will improve the overall quality of the facility. Regularly scheduled safety inspections are conducted at regular intervals and focus on immediate hazards. Together, as a part of every playground’s safety program, these types of inspections reduce the accident risk and liability exposure.

Playground Maintenance Planning
Facility maintenance is key to protecting the longevity of playgrounds. While recommended maintenance approaches vary depending on structures and equipment, all playgrounds require some type of regular care. MMI is experienced at developing maintenance plans for a variety of playground facilities to extend their life and protect the quality of play for users. Typical plans include scheduling consistent replacement of loose safety surfacing, cleaning frequency, and projected replacement based on equipment lifespans. Our staff can work with you to develop a maintenance plan specifically for your playground.

Designing High-Quality Park Facilities
MMI is a nationally-recognized leader in the planning and design of playgrounds and playground improvements. Our licensed landscape architects work hand-in-hand with our certified playground safety inspectors and design engineers to couple aesthetics, equipment, safety, and recreation in a manner that is ecologically and financially viable as well as permittable under local, state, and federal regulatory programs. MMI has supported design projects ranging from small playscapes to major renovations such as at the historic Rockwell Park in Bristol, CT (shown above), which included the design of a new a spray park and skate park, the relocation of a playground with a new safety surface, security fencing, signage, and more. Click here to learn more about our Parks and Recreation Services.

Playground Education and Outreach
We believe participation by all stakeholders in facility design and maintenance planning results in truly meaningful play spaces and user experiences. Our facility design process involves understanding the existing conditions, identifying opportunities for improvement, developing a collective vision, and finally developing the strategies that will translate the vision into reality. When developing maintenance plans for existing playgrounds, education about best practices for facility use can help reduce injuries and damage caused by the misuse of equipment. Our team regularly holds stakeholder and dedicated public information meetings where we present our work in language easily understood by the general public. MMI also has experience in all facets of digital communication, including public participation plans, website design, online content, project branding, online surveys, and social media, as well as the design and implementation of online surveys, including multilingual surveys. We understand that the public participation and education process needs to be approached and designed purposefully in order to engage, involve, and excite the constituencies.

Wherever you are in your playground facility planning process, MMI can design solutions that respond to your challenges and respect the unique needs of your community. Contact us today.