Playground sanitation and maintenance are two things that children don’t think about before they touch equipment. Parents, however, are very concerned about their children’s health and safety when it comes to cleanliness and maintenance, both at home and elsewhere. Playground owners have a responsibility to meet the public’s expectations in regard to sanitizing their equipment. Read on to learn about proper playground sanitation and maintenance for playground owners.
Things to Consider Before Dismissing the Importance of Sanitation
It’s not uncommon for some families to live by the “three-second rule.” If a child drops food on the floor for three seconds or less, it is okay to eat it. That’s gross, right? Now imagine hundreds of children who have played by the three-second rule and then touched playground equipment that had not been sanitized for several days. All the children who touched the playground equipment will be touching and ingesting a lot of germs and bacteria! Here’s a list of just a few consequences.
- Cold and/or flu
- Respiratory infections (sometimes serious)
- Transmitting diseases to other people
- Missing school
Some of these consequences might sound extreme, but they do happen. There are plenty of children who have weak immune systems and are prone to infections. Even if a child appears healthy, germs and bacteria from dirt and unsanitary playground equipment can lead to diseases that he or she has never had before. Playground owners have a responsibility to think about all children, including those with various health conditions, and how they will be affected by unsanitized playground equipment.
Things to Consider Before Dismissing the Importance of Playground Maintenance
Children are not known for watching where they step. They are often energetic, carefree, and more interested in having fun than being safe. Unfortunately, this positive attitude does not make them immune to injuries. Here is a list of other possible consequences of poor maintenance.
- Life-threatening injuries
- Multiple children slipping and falling
- Broken bones
- Missed school, sports, and other activities
Again, some of these consequences might sound dramatic, but they do happen. Playground owners must practice proper playground maintenance, for both safety as well as liability reasons.
What You Need Before You Clean, Sanitize, and Maintain Playground Equipment
Before you clean and sanitize playground equipment, you need to make sure that you have all of the proper supplies—hammers, nails, cleaning gloves, aprons, towels, brushes, bodily fluid disposal kit, and a safe cleaning solution. After you buy all your products to clean and sanitize your equipment, cover yourself with an apron. This way, you will avoid getting germs on your clothes, which will make it much easier to properly sanitize your equipment.
What to Watch for While Maintaining Equipment
As you inspect all the playground equipment, you need to pay special attention to loose or broken equipment, sharp edges, and bodily fluids. Keep all your supplies with you at all times. Every time you notice a sharp piece of wood, jagged edge of plastic, or exposed hardware sticking out, sand it, buff it, or replace it to avoid getting cuts and splinters. When you notice broken equipment, see if it is an easy fix with the tools you have. If not, mark off the area with a piece of colored masking tape to keep children off until you can repair it. Keep looking for broken and dangerous equipment before you start cleaning.
What to Watch for While Cleaning and Sanitizing Equipment
When you are doing a cleaning inspection for the playground equipment, be sure to pay extra attention to bodily fluids. These are any messes involving blood, saliva, mucus, or waste. After you come across an area that needs a cleanup, take out your bodily fluid disposal kit. Follow this procedure.
How to Use Bodily Fluid Disposal Kit
- Make sure that the surrounding area is clear.
- Wear goggles, an apron, gloves, and a mask.
- Thoroughly sanitize the area.
- If necessary, deodorize the area.
- Double-check for any missed areas of contamination.
- When you are done, properly dispose of all used cleaning and sanitation equipment.
- Repeat the process for every bodily fluid cleanup area.
How Often to Sanitize and Maintain Equipment
The consistency with which you clean depends on the type of cleaning solution you use. If you use an environmentally friendly and hypo-allergenic playground disinfectant, it will disinfect your equipment for up to four weeks. However, if your playground has been known to get dirty more frequently, it will have to be cleaned more often. Routine maintenance should be performed every three months.
How to Encourage Children to Be Safe on the Playground
Being concerned with children’s health and safety on the playground means setting expectations for proper hygiene and cleanliness habits. Remember that while you think proper hygiene and cleanliness are common sense, children do not think about that. Cautionary signs displayed at the playground’s entrance will encourage kids and their caretakers to practice cleanliness before, during, and after playing on the playground. Signs can make references to the following guidelines.
- Apply hand sanitizer
- Do not litter
- Germ prevention reminders
- No improper use of equipment
What to Do If a Child Gets Injured or Sick on the Playground
For playground owners who happen to be on the premises at the time of an injury, please make note of these tips. If a child suffers a serious injury, illness, or stops breathing, call 911 and make sure the child’s parent or guardian is present. Parents will attend to minor scrapes and bruises as they see fit. Not all accidents can be avoided, but proper maintenance, repair, and sanitation of playground equipment go a long way toward decreasing the number and severity of injuries. Playgrounds are meant to be fun and safe places for kids to get exercise, socialize, and enjoy the great outdoors. Let’s keep it that way!
Hopefully, these tips for proper sanitation and maintenance for playground owners will help you keep your playground healthy and safe for children. Remember that proper sanitation and maintenance procedures can save some children’s lives.