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No playground is complete without safety surfacing to cushion falls and stumbles

Date Published: Mar, 03 2015

When schools and parks first started installing playground equipment, they gave little thought to the safety surfacing materials that they used.  That is not the case anymore, having the appropriate safety surfacing is absolutely critical.  In fact, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) playground safety guidelines require all playground equipment to have an impact attenuating safety surfacing in place to help prevent critical head injuries.  Safety surfacing must be International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association (IPEMA) tested AND approved in order to be compliant for playground use.

What is the best safety surfacing for your playground?

Finding the right surfacing for your playground will depend on many factors such as how much you would like to spend, how frequently the playground is used and by how many children, and your site conditions. Below is a list of acceptable and unacceptable safety surfaces:

Grass and Dirt

While grass is a somewhat softer surface depending on if the dirt is loosely packed, it still has no ability to absorb shock after wear and environmental conditions.  The safest alternatives are loose-filled materials or cushioning mats.

Loose-Filled Materials

Popular loose filled surfaces such as rubber mulch or engineered wood fibers are easy to install and inexpensive.  A border is required to contain the material, and the loose fill has to be replenished often because it decomposes and compacts.

Cushioning Mats

Poured-in-Place (PIP) and rubber tiles are very durable, allows for great accessibility and environmentally friendly.  PIP and rubber tiles require very little maintenance and are easy to keep clean. While these surfaces can't totally protect a child from getting hurt, they can reduce the severity of the injury. Our safety surfacing buying guide will help you choose the best surface for your playground.

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