Winter warmer: maintaining your playground this winter
Outdoor play is encouraged year-around, leading to healthier, happier children. So, how do you ensure that your playground is clean and safe whatever the weather?
Plan it in
They say that prevention is better than cure, so the first thing you should look at is what planned maintenance you can schedule in. If you have water-based play equipment, this should be drained before the first frosts. This will help protect it from freezing temperature and ensure it can be used again next spring. In fact, any playground equipment that isn’t designed to withstand harsh weather conditions should be removed, stored or covered before the bad weather sets in.
Regardless of whether your surfacing is rubberised or loose-fill – mulch or wood chippings – or even natural or artificial grass, it is important that you check and maintain it regularly throughout the winter. Wet winters can easily wash away the material that makes up your playground surfacing safe. If your playground is installed on grass, it might be worth considering installing artificial grass, as it is much better designed to cope with inclement weather.
If any of your playground material is wooden, this would also benefit from some maintenance before winter sets in. A fresh coat of non-toxic wood preservative will help protect it from the elements. Extreme cold and continuous rainfall can lead to rapid deterioration of wood, which can in turn, cause a significant safety risk. It is also important to inspect, and where necessary maintain, all the hardware on your equipment, including tightening any loose screws.
The white stuff
Snow can look very pretty, particularly over the festive period, but if you do get a snowfall, it is worthwhile manually clearing it off your playground. If left, it can prove treacherous if it freezes and almost as equally bad as it melts. It also presents hazard just after it has fallen as you don’t know if it has drifted and how deep it is. It is also worth removing any canopies or shades, as strong winds, storm weather and snowfall can all make these shelters unsafe.
The weather over the winter months can definitely make outside play less appealing, but as long as children are wrapped up well and your playground is safe and well maintained, they should still be able to get outside and have fun.
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