Outdoor playtime plays an incredibly important role in children's physical, social and cognitive development. The right playground equipment can make playtime more fun, encouraging children to be physically and socially active.
Since children experience a rush of excitement and are physically active in playgrounds, injuries are common. In fact, emergency departments at hospitals in the US treat over 200,000 kids of ages 14 years and younger for playground-related injuries every year, according to figures published by the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. For this reason, too, it is important to select playground equipment wisely.
Steps to Follow Before Selecting Playground Equipment
Some preparation is needed before you begin researching playground equipment.
Step 1: Assess Your Needs
For this, you may consider:
- Size of the playground and space for equipment
- Overall playground layout
- Number of children expected to simultaneously be at the playground
- Ages of children expected to visit the playground and use its equipment
- Any special needs of disabilities
Step 2: Access Existing Equipment
For this, you may consider:
- Condition of existing equipment
- Determining which ones need to be replaced
- Determining what is missing in the existing equipment
Step 3: Determine the Budget
For this, you may consider
- Overall existing budget
- Other sources of funds, like donations, fundraisers and grants
- Funds to be allocated for site preparation, new surfacing costs or other expenses
- Whether the playground can be completed in phases
Factors to consider in selecting the right playground equipment
Now is when you begin researching to select the playground equipment that’s best suited to your needs. The most critical decision in selecting playground equipment equipment is choosing the material. The three main materials are Wood, Metal and Plastic.
- Aesthetically please
- Low maintenance
- Easy to clean
- Cost effective
Other factors to consider
- Aesthetics: Ensure that the equipment looks inviting and engaging for children. Kids love colorful equipment that seem fun or challenging.
- Complexity: Choose equipment that will help children develop different physical abilities. At the same time, equipment should be age appropriate and not too complex for the intended kids.
- Maintenance: Find out how easy it is to keep the equipment clean and in order.
- Weather: Choose equipment according to how harsh the summers and winters are and the amount of rainfall the area receives.
- Safety: Ensure that the playground equipment you choose meets or exceeds safety standards set by the American Society of Testing Materials (ASTM) and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
Factors to Consider in Choosing the Playground Equipment Provider
Selecting the right playground equipment provider is also critical. Here are a few aspects to consider:
- Experience: Ensure that you purchase playground equipment from a provider that has been in business for at least a couple of decades. An experienced provider will have knowledge of handling a playground project from initial consultation through final installation and may be able to give you invaluable tips according to your unique needs.
- Installation: Inquire if the playground equipment provider offers free installation.
- Payment Options: Enquire whether the provider has financing partners who can help provide equipment on “pay later” terms.
- Customization Options: While it may be simpler to purchase pre-designed equipment, at times you may need some customization as per the playground layout or specific children using the equipment. It’s best to choose a playground equipment provider that offers customization, while also having a wide array of structure designs to choose from.
Playground equipment are an integral part of communities, schools and daycare facilities. Take the time to choose the best playground equipment for your needs and give kids a fabulous outdoor play experience.