With Ida having just come through and being at the beginning of hurricane season, we thought now was a good time to let you know what you can do if your playground has been affected by hurricanes or other rain storms.
Your playground was designed for normal wear and tear, and in most instances will weather the inclement weather just fine, however, it is a good idea to do a few things after a storm that can help ensure the safety of children and caregivers alike!
Many parks are situated in low lying areas which are prone to flooding. If your playground was underwater pay special attention to the following:
- Footings around posts and end supports might be soft or have eroded so you should pull back the surfacing to inspect. Wood playgrounds will often show rot BELOW the surfacing!
- Moving components may have silted up so rinse with fresh water to remove grit and lubricate if required. It is a good idea to follow manufacturer’s recommendations as some lubricants can damage components.
- Nonmoving components may have loosened up so check all fittings and connections to make sure they are still snug.
- Rotationally molded plastic components, like slides, can fill with water which may distort the plastic over time so, after checking with the manufacturer, you might want to drill a small hole on the underside of the item to allow for drainage. Choose a place not very noticeable.
- Flood waters in coastal areas can be salty and, in some places, might even include chemicals or leaked sewage. It’s advisable to lightly pressure wash your play structures to help minimize any potential for rusting hardware. Especially pay close attention to where kids might place their hands to keep things clean.
One of the most important areas to check after a storm is your surfacing as the majority of accidents are still due to falls to the ground.
- First, remove any branches and debris to clear the play and surface area.
- While a lot of loose fills knit together and don’t readily float, the current from flood waters can wash surfacing away, so take a moment and check the depth of surfacing. CPSC guidelines require a minimum of 6″ of rubber chips and 9″ of wood chips or sand. Your original installation might have included more so look for grade markers on your equipment to confirm depth as well.
- Poured in place, rubber tiles and turf are typically porous. If your playground had standing water, it’s a good idea to flush the surfacing to try and remove anything harmful. Using a pressure washer may damage the surface so it is best not to do that!
- Poured in place, tiles and turf are commonly built on a layer of compressed stone that may have shifted during the storm. If you feel voids as you inspect the playground, reach out to your supplier for solutions because a loose base will eventually lead to bigger problems like cracks and tears down the road.
- Turf surfacing includes an infill like sand or encapsulated sand to help hold down the surfacing, prevent wrinkles and help the turf ‘stand up.’ You may need to add infill and brush out the surfacing to bring it back to life. Tears at seams or pulling away from borders should be repaired by your turf vendor.
Finally, take plenty of pictures before you begin to clean up! You might need them for insurance claims and your vendors might need them to help you identify broken parts and find replacements. Manufacturers and their sales agencies can help you with further issues so always get their recommendation first before trying your own repair.