Follow these maintenance tips to preserve playground equipment when winter weather strikes. When freezing conditions hit your playground, they can impact your materials. Key components, like surfacing and shade structures, should be prepped, if possible, beforehand. Areas in the Northeast and Northwest that are historically known for heavy snowfall, like Rochester, NY and Salt Lake City, UT, can significantly extend the life of playground equipment with these simple winter prep steps.
1. If heavy snowfall is in the horizon, take down your shade structures. Shade canopies are made to withstand high winds but are not made to endure heavy snowfall. By taking down your shades and storing them over the winter, you can both improve playground safety and better protect your investment.
2. Maintain your surfacing. Winter weather conditions have a large effect on playground and recreational surfacing. Loose fill surfacing, like playground mulch, gets shifted around considerably from sleet, snow, ice and any falling debris. To minimize the amount of displacement, regrade loose fill before the heavy snowfall comes. If you have poured in place rubber surfacing, fill any visible cracks. When it comes time to remove the snow, be careful not to use any corrosive materials. Both sand and salt can undermine the integrity of your surfacing. For best results, use a plastic shovel to clear snow after a storm.
3. Bring any loose play items, like play cars or tricycles, inside for the winter months.
4. After the winter, check over your equipment to ensure there is no loose or missing hardware. When snow falls over equipment, melts and refreezes, it contracts and expands. Over winter, this continual shift has the potential to move hardware that is essential for maintaining playground safety. To ensure everything is securely in place, check your equipment post winter. If you are unsure about the safety of a piece of equipment or notice any broken or damaged parts, a Certified Playground Safety Inspector can help.
At Pro Playgrounds, our comprehensive inspection services literally examine every part of your playground, down to the last nut and bolt, provide a detailed report about any deficiencies and recommend actions to cure them. You can avoid damage and extend the life of your recreational and playground equipment with regular, ongoing maintenance. Read more playground maintenance tips, provided by the National Program for Playground Safety (NPPS), here.