At home, you take care of things like washing your car or dusting the living room. When you get to work, thinking about what it takes to keep a playground clean and healthful is not likely on the top of your list. Regular maintenance, including cleaning, not only ensures a longer life for your equipment, but also helps parents and kids have a better experience with less worry about getting sick.
We are in some turbulent times when it comes to how we perceive our playground equipment. Cities and towns have had to close playgrounds to prevent spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. As these playgrounds reopen, we must be aware of the role that playgrounds and parks have as a powerful part of living healthy lives, both mentally and physically. It is not just this coronavirus; playgrounds can be a place where germs of many types can live and parents are now critically aware.
If you are a playground owner, there are many things that you can do to care for your equipment and maintain a positive perception of that playground in your community. Adopting a cleaning schedule will help you take care of your community, and here’s how you can do that.
Roto-molded plastic slides, especially light-colored ones, are prone to scuff marks from dark-soled shoes. Those marks not only are unsightly, but can change the play value of a slide as it moves from fast to slow. You can clean these plastic surfaces by using a non-abrasive or non-caustic cleaner. This will maintain the integrity of the surface and prevent fading on sections, keeping your playground bright and looking like new for years.
Rust can wreak havoc on your equipment, especially in those areas where you may not notice them. The underside of slides, bottoms of play decks, and particularly places where damp materials have been pushed up against the metal are all places to examine and treat. Not only can rust be unappealing to worried parents, but it can affect the tensile strength of metal uprights or posts. Regularly inspect your metal components, and if you see rust, treat that by cleaning off the rust and sealing it with the appropriate paint to prevent further damage.
Your playground surfacing, whether you are using pour-in-place, turf, or engineered wood fiber (EWF), is a key part of a safe playground. A thorough cleaning of non-EWF surfacing could be as simple as hosing it down with soap and water to remove abrasive material that can wear down the surface. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on types of soaps and solvents to ensure maximum product life. For EWF surfacing, make sure you have the recommended depth for the designed fall height of your structures, and regularly run a shop magnet over the area to remove any metal that may have found its way from wind or loose pockets.
It is a common misconception that outdoor playgrounds are regularly cleaned by the exposure to sun, rain, and wind. Those exposures do affect the ability of bacteria, viruses, and other contagions to survive, but unfortunately, it isn’t enough. Viruses of every type from the common cold to the flu or worse have been shown to survive for days on solid surfaces. And let’s be honest, kids can be adorable germ transmitters even in the best of situations. Little hands find their way into all sorts of mischief, and those hands not only bring contaminants into their own eyes, mouths, and noses, but share those contaminants with the structure they play on to share with others.
Your playground is a key part of a community, and it is where little bodies and minds explore and grow. You can’t prevent kids from getting sick, but you can help provide a place where parents can feel safe bringing their child to play. Help parents keep their kids healthy as they teach hygiene by having places for children to wash their hands. Maintain a clean and safe playground to give them the opportunity for healthy growth. As we come back together in our new normal reality, a lot of attention will be given to places and situations where kids can pick up an unwanted sickness.
Adopting a regular maintenance and cleaning schedule is easy. If you would like to bring in LuckyDog Recreation to clean your playground, contact us today, 1-800-388-2196. We can help you know the right cleaners, the right things to look for, and keep your Reputation spotless.
You can also download the LuckyDog Maintenance Checklist and the Playcraft Maintenance Flyer to keep the health of your playground in top notch shape!