March 14, 2018

Playground Sustainability 101: Maintenance and Supervision

Keep them Coming Back

This is the first of a three-part series on Playground Sustainability and part of our Playground 101 series. Read our posts on planning, funding, designing and building a playground. 

 

You built it. They came. Now it’s time to make sure they keep coming back! Think of it like servicing your car. Regular routine maintenance and proper supervision will make sure your playground is operating smoothly and can be enjoyed for years to come. So take the time to put together a management plan to ensure your playground is successful!

Management Plans

As a community, you should come up with a management plan that addresses the long-term goals for your playground. This plan should take into consideration the long-term healthy development of any trees or plants included around your play space as well as the lifespan of any play or recreation equipment. The parks and recreation department, school system, neighborhood associations, non-profit organizations, or any combination of these groups could develop this management plan. It’s important to involve the community in your play space because this ensures the community will have an interest in supporting and preserving the site.

Maintenance

After you’ve put so much time and energy into the creation of your new community playground, you’ll want to make sure the site is always taken care of! The best way to do this is to have regular inspections of the site and to quickly address any maintenance needs that may arise. These steps are also key parts of your risk management program because you’ll decrease the chances of anyone getting hurt on faulty equipment. Another reason to make sure you’re taking care of your playground is that play equipment, protective surfacing, planning, and site development are all significant investments! Regular maintenance will decrease the chances that you’ll have to replace any costly equipment. In addition to the economic reasons, you should regularly maintain your play space as a way to foster community pride and keep community members invested in the success of the site. Here are some key things to consider when planning your maintenance program:

  • Inspections should be routine, timely, and followed up with immediate action
  • Have a system in place that ensures any hazardous situations are handled immediately
  • Staff should be regularly educated and trained
  • Keep all your records of all maintenance and repair jobs

Supervision

Playground supervision is essential because it decreases the risk of injury on your playground. You should make sure all of your playground supervisors are educated on how to promote healthy, active, challenging play without compromising safety. Supervisors should pay close attention to the following aspects of play:

  • Children getting on or off play equipment
  • Young children who are just beginning to play
  • Children who don’t seem to be cautious
  • Overcrowding on play activities, such as slide entrances
  • Items brought into the playground that could be dangerous
  • Children roughhousing, bullying, or other negative play behaviors

Your playground supervisors should visit the playground and get familiar with all of the play equipment and play areas so that they can better keep track of children playing and anticipate any accidents.

Think Long Term

Don’t let your sparkling new playground turn into a jalopy. With a solid management plan, you’ll ensure meaningful usage and long-term sustainability of this valuable asset. Taking care of your playground will keep the community coming back for years to come!  

Want to learn more? Request a free copy of our Blueprint for Play Toolkit, Playground Maintenance Guide or Playground Supervision Guide.