‘Humpty dumpty sat on a wall’ - fall protection for playgrounds


‘Humpty dumpty sat on a wall’ - fall protection for playgrounds

We all know the famous nursery rhyme about Humpty Dumpty, but the last thing anyone wants is to have a little one fall whilst playing, especially from height.

Although it would be impossible to prevent every little trip with the rough and tumble of play, there are ways to safeguard young children when playing on playground equipment.

The ins and outs

When considering the design of play equipment, it is important to minimise entry and exit points. This ensures that there are fewer opportunities for a child to take a tumble. It also provides parents with peace of mind if there are not so many gaps for them to watch over when young ones are playing and they don’t yet understand heights or could easily wobble too far away. Guard rails should always be present to protect young ones and provide handholds too.

A sure sign

Ensure that the equipment available is appropriate for the age range of the young children playing. Placing clear signs detailing the recommended age range, for example 2-5 years of age, to use certain play spaces or equipment can help parents make a clear decision on where best children can play. The play equipment installed should of course also only be suitable for the age recommended.

A safe distance

Parents will always need to supervise their children when playing. However, for parents with more than one child, usually of varying ages, they will have the dilemma of having their attention split between them and will not always be able to consistently watch each of them play simultaneously.

Consider the placement and spacing of various age-appropriate equipment, so that it is still easy for a parent to observe an older, more independent child, whilst they are supervising a younger child. With nothing placed too far away or with obstacles in the way of view (such as trees or shrubs), this will still help to keep everyone safe while they play.

On the surface

Falls can just as easily happen on the ground when children are moving from one piece of equipment to another, especially if they are particularly young and still a little unsteady on their feet. The surface they play on is therefore just as important to consider as the equipment they play on.

Indoor play areas should include padded floors, ideal for soft play, and outdoor areas should include safety surfaces with hard-wearing, maintenance-free and weather-proof options, such as rubber chippings, wood bark, or slip-resistant wet pour. Placing these softer, shock-absorbing surfaces under equipment can help to lessen the impact of a fall, as opposed to falling straight onto hard ground.

Check and check again

Check equipment regularly so that any potential hazards are found early to prevent any accidents. General wear and tear, such as loose handrails or barriers, can easily cause a fall if left undetected or unrepaired. This maintenance will also negate the need to replace full pieces, which can be costly.

Ensuring the ground children play on is also kept clear of debris or potential trip hazards, such as exposed tree roots, or edgings between play surfaces, and any unexpected surface level changes, can also help reduce unnecessary trips and falls.

With parents potentially using a play area weekly or even daily, they may be able to spot any signs of damage or disrepair more quickly. Make it easy for parents to get in touch if they notice anything, such as by providing a sign with a contact number or email address for them to report any issues before they become a hazard.

Although it is inevitable that children will sometimes trip or fall whilst playing, we can reduce the risk of these becoming a serious accident. At Ace Play, we can help ensure that safety is paramount for little ones by installing, refurbishing, repairing and inspecting playgrounds and park equipment of all shapes and sizes, both for indoor and outdoor spaces. Get in touch to find out more.

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