OUTDOOR PLAYGROUND AREAS AND EQUIPMENT AND POOLS
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OUTDOOR PLAYGROUND AREAS AND EQUIPMENT AND POOLS

OUTDOOR PLAYGROUND AREAS AND EQUIPMENT AND POOLS

Playground injuries are the leading cause of serious injuries at child care facilities. To prevent such injuries, you can take action to make outdoor play safer. Make sure that your outdoor play area is enclosed with a fence or natural barriers (such as a hedge) at least 4 feet high, with the bottom no more than 3 1/2 inches off the ground. A fence should have at least two gates with latches above the reach of small children. The area should be clean and safe with no debris, dilapidated structures, broken or worn equipment, toxic plants, or other objects or materials that could cause injury. If you suspect the soil may contain hazardous levels of chemicals or toxins, have it tested.

As with indoor equipment, outdoor equipment should not have sharp corners, protruding nails or bolts, loose or rusty parts, small parts that could be swallowed, or toxic finishes, such as lead-based paint. Holes or abandoned wells in the area should be filled or sealed. The area should also be well drained, with no standing water. Both sunlit areas and shaded areas should be provided. Climbers and swings should have a resilient surface, such as sand, sawdust, etc., beneath them and within the fall zone that will cushion a child’s fall.

Any pools of water (swimming pools, fish ponds, etc.) should be enclosed with a fence at least 5 feet high and no more than 3 1/2 inches off the ground. Inground pools should be surrounded by a 4-foot wide, nonskid surface. The pool should be covered when not in use. The water in pools used for wading or swimming should be maintained between pH 7.2 and pH 8.2. (You can buy a water testing kit at any pool supply store.) Water temperatures should be between 82F and 93F.

Small, portable wading pools should not be used. Because they have no filtration system, the stagnant water provides a perfect setting for bacteria to grow. Instead, use sprinklers, hoses, or water tables as an alternative for water play.

Note: This information is not intended to take the place of your state's or locality's child care regulations and laws. In every case, the laws and regulations of the city, county, and state in which the child care facility is located must be carefully followed even if they differ from these recommendations.

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