Clearly, playgrounds are not shelters, and most parents won’t be taking their kids to the school or church playground during a hurricane. However, healthy play takes place year-round, and many kids rush outdoors rain or shine. You can make your themed playgrounds in Texas deserts shady oases, or craft you Northwestern forest parks into retreats from the rain by following these three climate-conscious design tips.
- Be Careful with Surface MaterialsWhile plenty of parents know to slather their kids in sunscreen before summertime outdoor play, they don’t realize that children can still be burned at the park. When the sun heats playground equipment, the metal or dark plastic surface retains a significant amount of heat. Children can burn their palms while climbing or their legs on seats and slides. To make playgrounds safer in the summer, playground designers should choose materials and surface finishes that are known to retain less heat to reduce the risk of thermal burns on children’s sensitive skin.
- Include Plenty of Shade
Heat exhaustion is also a common summertime danger for kids at play. Be sure to use roofs over jungle gyms and climbing areas wherever possible, being careful not to limit visibility for supervising parents and guardians. Trees can provide some protection, but for themed playgrounds in Texas, a well-forested play site might be hard to come by. Look for a variety of shade options, like pavilion roofs or fabric sun shades. Finally, don’t forget to protect seating areas for older visitors. Also, consider incorporating vertical windshield walls to provide kids shelter from chilly gusts on cooler days.
- Incorporate Drainage Designs
Just as too much sun can impediment outdoor playtime, too much rain can make playgrounds unsafe if they are not designed for such weather. If you are building a playground in the northwestern temperate rainforests or other parts of the country known for precipitation, be sure to account for moisture when selecting surfaces. Porous designs are a must to help limit puddles. Also, ensure ladders and stair have high-friction traction surfaces to prevent slips.
Seventy-three percent of schools from all regions of the US provide a recess for elementary students, despite great differences in weather and climate. Knowing how to optimize a playground for any weather can protect kids from the elements and make playtime safer and happier. Use these tips and tricks to design outdoor playground equipment for all-season adventures.