Create Your Safe Play Zone
What's the Buffer Zone?
Create a buffer zone, covered with a protective surfacing material, under and around all equipment where a child might fall. The protective surfacing material should extend a minimum of six feet in all directions from the perimeter of the equipment. To prevent further injury from a fall, this area must be free of other equipment and obstacles that might strike a child.
Dig a Pit
Loose-fill (sand, fine gravel, mulch, wood chips, etc.) material requires a method of containment such as a retaining barrier or excavated pit. It also requires good drainage underneath the material, periodic renewal or replacement, and continuous maintenance (e.g., leveling, grading, sifting, raking) to maintain its depth and to remove foreign matter.
Replace Loose-Fill Periodically
Wet weather, freezing temperatures, normal use over time, and contamination will decompose, pulverize, and compact material. Be sure to renew or replace it before it turns hard.
The Nitty Gritty on Sand and Gravel
Although cheap, sand is the least desirable option. Sand can scatter easily outside of your containment area. It also hardens quickly when wet, is abrasive to floor surfaces when tracked indoors, and attracts animals as a litter box. Gravel is more difficult to walk on and can present a tripping hazard if scattered.
Swing Safety Zones
Swing sets should be securely anchored. Swings also should have a buffer zone with protective surfacing extending a minimum of six feet from the outer edge of the support structure on each side. The use zone in front and back of the swing should be even larger, and extend out a minimum distance of twice the height of the swing as measured from the ground to the swing hangers on support structure.
Rules on Swing Spacing
To prevent injuries from impact with moving swings, swings should not be too close together or too close to support structures. Swing spacing should be at least eight inches between suspended swings and eight inches from the support frame. The minimum clearance between the ground and underside of swing seat should also be eight inches.
That's how to create the best buffer zone between your child and potential injury. Consider a contractor if you are not handy. Poorly installed playgrounds can be an added hazard.
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