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5 Pieces Of Equipment You May Not Know Was Banned From Playgrounds

Date Published: Jul, 24 2014

There is no doubt that playgrounds have changed a lot since many of us were children. A broad focus on safety, environmental concerns and rapid advances in technology have merged together to create playgrounds that are safer and more fun than ever. Playgrounds are also extraordinarily long lived, with equipment frequently outlasting its safety rating. Our designers and playground installation crews are constantly working to incorporate our customers' existing equipment into new playground installations. After all, the most Earth and budget friendly option is always to reuse what you can. We even transport donated playgrounds our customers have outgrown to smaller venues that can still use them. Unfortunately, sometimes well loved equipment just isn't up to today's standards. That is one of the many reasons that each member of our installation team is a Certified Playground Safety Inspector. They frequently identify and remove equipment that's still in good shape but no longer considered safe and this week they are sharing a list of equipment that just has to go.


Pressure Treated Wood:

In 2003, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) advised manufacturers to discontinue the use of wood treated with Chromated copper arsenate (CCA) which had been used for decades to prevent insect and fungi infestation on playground equipment. Unfortunately, CCA contains arsenic, which is toxic to humans and leaches into the ground. Although there is some evidence to suggest that yearly resealing may reduce arsenic migration from the equipment, the CPSC recommends that equipment be removed and disposed of properly. Odds are if your equipment isn't made of redwood or cedar and was manufactured before 2003, it contains CCA.


Animal Swings:

These are large swings that are shaped like lions, tigers and bears (oh my!) as well as horses, birds and other exotic animals. These are typically molded out of plastic and are a pretty cool concept. Unfortunately, in 1995 the CPSC recommended that all animal swings be removed from playgrounds. They are just too heavy and can cause serious injury when a child is struck by an occupied swing. Even though it has been almost 20 years since manufacturing was stopped, their durability and appeal means that we still occasionally see these popping up on public playgrounds.


Trapeze Bars:

Trapeze bars are fairly common on private playgrounds and consist of a single bar positioned between two hanging chains. Allowing children to swing back and forth, dangle upside down and to spin and twist the bar while in use, trapeze bars are just too high of a liability for a public playground. Children can't really see what they are doing or where they are going when using the equipment and it is simple to be pulled or knocked off of during group play. Due to their mobile nature, trapeze bars are extremely easy to fall off of (typically head first) and really aren't safe for any playground, public or private. Turning bars, which are fixed to the ground or another structure, are considered safe for public use and area good substitute.


Gym Rings:

Similar to trapeze bars but less common, this simple equipment isn't recommended for use on public playgrounds. Gym rings are actually serious athletic equipment designed for use under the guidance and supervision of a professional coach. In addition to being easy to fall from or pulled from during rough play, most children lack the upper body strength to properly use gym rings and the long chains are an entanglement hazard.


Tire Swings with Real Tires:

Technically, you can still use a real tire on your tire swing but our experts don't recommend it and over all, manufacturers are turning away from rubber tire swings. Aside from being dirty (rubber tires attract and hold onto dirt) the water that gathers inside the tire can create a breeding ground for insects, mold and mildew. Users frequently slice drainage holes into the bottom of the swing to drain the water and this will compromise the strength of the swing over time. Additionally, rubber swings are heavier than their plastic counterparts and with the weight of a few children added on can injure a child crossing into its path.


Why do safety regulations change?

Regulations on playground equipment change for a variety of reasons. Earlier equipment was installed based on inspired designs that were not safety tested. On the rare occasion that equipment posed a serious threat to safety a standard recall would be issued. Today's equipment is rigorously tested and monitored by the Consumer Product Safety Commission who performs ongoing research to continually improve safety guidelines and regulations.

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