Playgrounds are built to withstand large flocks of children at a time—regardless of whether the kids are climbing, swinging, or jumping. However, many residential playground owners focus much of their attention on the quality of their playground structures—and not enough attention toward their playgrounds’ floors. When constructing a backyard playground, many homeowners use their backyards’ default flooring for play-area surfacing. These surfaces—like grass, dirt, or concrete—fail to minimize the risk posed to your children as they play on the playground. To ensure these are safe playgrounds, it is important to use a surfacing that is impact absorbing. That way, you can prevent serious injury from trips or falls.
Why Are Safe Playgrounds Important?
Safe playgrounds are important because, at playgrounds, children often engage in physically risky activities—such as climbing, swinging, and jumping. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), “almost 60% of all injuries are caused by falls to the ground. [Using] protective surfacing under and around all playground equipment can reduce the risk of serious head injury.” Now that you know why are safe playgrounds important, let’s see what makes a safe playground.
What Makes a Safe Playground?
What makes a safe playground is mainly the playground’s surfacing. Specialized playground surfacing, such as rubber outdoor playground tiles, have numerous safety features to help keep active playground-goers safe. But, what is the safest surface for playgrounds? Of all the options, we think that rubber is the safest surface for playgrounds. The following is a list of the top eight benefits of using rubber outdoor playmats:
1. Cushion: Surfaces like asphalt and cement are hard. In relation to playground safety, hard surfaces are highly undesirable, for they do little to dampen the impact of a fall. Thus, when it comes to residential playground surfaces, hard surfaces are serious safety hazards since children are likely to fall while they are running or climbing. Serious injuries are commonly caused by falls onto a hard playground surface. Rubber outdoor playground tiles are thick, cushioned mats that act as a shock-absorbing barrier between a child and the hard subsurface that the tiles cover.
2. Shock Absorbent: Rubber’s natural ability to absorb shocks makes the ideal surfacing-material for safe playgrounds. Unlike hard materials such as asphalt and concrete, rubber distributes the downward force of any object that falls onto it, thereby minimizing the damage inflicted upon the object. This means that if a child falls from, say, a swing set onto a rubber playground mat—rather than a hard surface—the child is much less likely to be seriously injured. In fact, the CPSC states that one of the easiest ways to create safe playgrounds is to use shock-absorbent surfacing. Rubber mats for playground surfaces are the way to go.
3. Fall-height Rated: Ensure that you check the fall-height rating of your rubber outdoor playmats. A soft play-mat’s fall-height rating quantifies the maximum height from which a falling object can safely fall on the mat. Thus, a six-foot playground structure requires outdoor play matting with, at least, a six-feet fall-height rating.
4. Ease of Installation: Since most outdoor playground tiles are interlocking, installing them is as easy as connecting puzzle pieces. And if you opt for a more seamless playground cover, such as a rubber sheet, rubber products stay in place under their own weight. Regardless of the type of rubber playground tile you choose, DIY-friendliness is part of the package. Building safe playgrounds has never seemed easier.
5. Anti-slip: Using rubber for your home playground surfaces will not only help lower the chance of serious injury from falls, but it will also help prevent any accidental trips. Rubber has a naturally high coefficient of friction. This means that when your children are running around on outdoor playground tiles, they have an anti-slip flooring to protect them from slipping or tripping. Safe playgrounds aren’t just about damage control—it’s important to prevent accidents from happening in the first place, too.
6. Visibility: This benefit is often understated, but it applies especially in cases where an owner is considering upgrading his playground surface from loose-fillings to rubberized playground mats. When hazardous, perhaps sharp, objects are left at the playground, loose fillings can disguise the presence of the hazard. But with a rubber backyard playground surface, any object that’s potentially hazardous is more immediately identifiable. Safe playgrounds should be free from dangerous objects. Rubber tiles—for kids, perhaps—are ideal for playground safety.
7. Long-lasting: Since rubber outdoor playmats are often made from discarded tires, they exhibit the same degree of durability that tires do. Tires are made to withstand some of the harshest environmental conditions. Thus, a rubberized playground surface is a worthwhile investment.
8. Affordable: There are multiple ways by which rubberized playground flooring is so affordable. First, there’s the fact that rubber companies like Rubber-Cal make their rubber products out of reclaimed rubber. Because reclaimed rubber is cheaper to use than non-recycled materials (while maintaining quality), rubber products made from reclaimed rubber tend to be more inexpensive. Second, because rubber products are so DIY-friendly, customers often save costly professional installation costs, and they rarely need to purchase adhesives. Third, when you use interlocking playground rubber tiles, surface damage becomes an easy and affordable problem to fix. If one section of the playground surface is damaged, you can replace that one tile without needing to touch the rest. Together, these factors are strong reasons for why rubber is the best material for playground matting.
What Is the Safest Surface for Playgrounds?
The safest surface for playgrounds is rubber surfacing. Rubber is durable, shock-absorbent, slip-resistant, and water-resistant—qualities that essentially define playground safety. Visits to the playground shouldn’t be nerve-wracking for parents. Playground safety is relatively simple to assess and administer. By using the information we’ve just given you, we’re confident that you’re more aware of what makes a safe playground. As we’ve stated, the easiest way to make safe playgrounds is by installing rubber padding for playgrounds. Avoid playgrounds whose structures are set on asphalt or concrete. Falling off of playground equipment onto these unforgiving surfaces can result serious injuries. Outdoor rubber safety mats for play areas can dramatically reduce both injuries from falling, as well as prevent accidental trips or slips. Thus, a safe playground begins with a rubber playground mat.