Is Your Playground Ready for the Back-to-School Rush?

preschool playground in mdNow that summer is in the rear-view mirror, kids are back to school and looking for a little fun on crisp fall days. Whether your playground is on school grounds or in a park, you’re going to see more kids playing on your equipment. Is it ready for the influx?

Playground Inspection: The Grounds

While fun is the first priority for kids, safety is the first priority of playground maintenance. Your playground most likely saw a lot of visitors this summer, so it’s time to do a walk-through and see what maintenance needs to be done before the fall playground season begins.

1. Fencing

It’s time to make sure your fencing is intact. It keeps kids in your play area, and allows you to supervise the kids to keep them out of harm’s way. Is your wooden fencing broken, or does it have splinters? If you opted for chain links, are all the fasteners intact, or are there sharp edges exposed? Is your gate functioning properly, without the risk of kids getting fingers caught?

2. Footing and Surfaces

Next, turn your attention to the footing of your play area. If you’re using mulch, make sure there is enough padding to soften a fall. Dirt and grass aren’t suitable for playground surfaces, because they can be as hard as cement in the event of a tumble. You will also need to check for uneven surfaces that could result in tripping. It’s the perfect time to consider adding safety surfacing to your playground.

3. Cleanliness

It’s time to assess the cleanliness of your playground. Are there trash cans readily available throughout the space? Pick up any trash, and be on the lookout for broken glass and other hazards. This is a great time to get your entire playground pressure washed to remove summer’s grime.

4. Insect Infestations

Insects can be a nuisance, and even more so on a playground. Check under all equipment to make sure there are no signs of bees, hornets, or wasps. Remember, though, that wasps and bees aren’t the only insects that can bite and sting; check all equipment and surfaces for large numbers of ants, or for ants that are moving in one direction in a line. This could indicate you have a colony somewhere nearby. Even tiny black ants will bite, and all species will swarm over any perceived threat they find. Check your wooden equipment and benches for signs of termites, too.

5. Functional Plumbing

If your playground has restrooms, make sure the toilets flush, the sinks work properly, and your hand dryers are functional. This is a good time to lay up supplies of toilet paper, cleaning items, and paper towels, if necessary. Check to make sure bathroom trash cans are intact and all debris is cleaned up.

Playground Inspection: The Equipment

It’s time to check your equipment to make sure it is well-maintained so your playground is ready for the back-to-school rush of eager kids.

1. Broken or Missing Equipment

Very few kids are deterred by the sight of a broken piece of equipment. It’s in their nature to explore and find ways to “make it work.” Make sure all equipment is intact, with no missing parts.

2. Tighten Fasteners

Shake the equipment to make sure it is still firmly seated in the ground. Next, check all joints on each piece of equipment and make sure they are tight, and that all nuts and bolts are in place.

3. Ensure Equipment is “Smash” Proof

Each moving piece of equipment has safeguards to ensure kids can’t get their fingers trapped. Check each one to make sure all of these safeguards are in place and intact. 

4. Railings

Railings should be on every elevated piece of equipment, and they should be intact and secure. Ensure they are still firmly bolted to the equipment, and that all nuts and bolts are accounted for.

5. Rust Inspection

No piece of equipment should have rust on it. It isn’t just unsightly, it is also an indicator that the strength of the metal has deteriorated. Any equipment that is rusting must be repaired, if possible, or preferably, replaced altogether.

Rules of the Playground

It’s important that all kids visiting your playground understand the concepts of safety while playing in and around your equipment. No one wants to dampen their fun, but a few common sense rules can keep kids from being injured. Post these rules in several places on your playground.

1. One at a Time

Swings, slides, and other equipment are designed to be used by one person at a time. Discourage kids from sitting on the same swing seat, crowding onto a slide, or partaking in other potentially dangerous activities.

2. Look Before Your Slide

Remind your guests to look at and around the bottom of the slide before taking their turn, and to keep an eye out for kids below them when dismounting from climbing equipment.

3. Don’t Climb on Equipment Not Designed for Climbing

What do kids do when they’ve mastered the jungle gym? They find other places to climb. Never allow kids to climb on anything that wasn’t designed specifically for that purpose.

4. Report Unusual Behavior

We want to think our kids are safe, but playgrounds can attract some unsavory characters. Remind kids never to speak to a stranger, and to report anyone who is “hanging around” without a child or acting suspiciously.

5. Playground Manners

Your playground rules should state in no uncertain terms that bullying is never allowed. Encourage kids to take turns, share, and “play nice.”

Is Your Playground Ready for the Back-to-School Rush?

If your playground walk-through raised a few concerns, you may need a professional evaluation. Remember that while it’s mostly about guest safety, in the case of injuries it’s also about assigning liability. You need documentation that your playground has passed a stringent safety evaluation.


Metro Recreation believes in fun and safety. Schedule a free site visit to have a professional come to your playground and evaluate it for safety and possible upgrades. We are the pros at designing playgrounds that fascinate and delight kids while keeping safety at the heart of all our equipment.

Ready to get your playground ready for the back-to-school rush? Contact us and let’s talk about upgrading your playground with a new piece, or an entirely reimagined space.