Purchasing a play structure for your school, church, park or HOA is an important decision with many factors to carefully consider. This information will shed some light on that process and the important details that must be considered when planning for the purchase and installation of a play structure.
First, a little background on me: I’ve held a Certified Playground Safety Inspector (CPSI) certification for five years and have installed more play structures than I can count. They have been installed all over the country both indoors and out. Currently, and for the past three years, I serve as the Director of Sales and Operations at JM Installations located in central Florida.
Based on my experience, here are some of the most important things to consider.
The area where the play structure will be installed must meet several criteria. The area must be large enough to accommodate not only the play system, but also a “usage zone” required by each structure. This location must be level and free of debris. Before installation can begin, a “locate” will need to be performed by utility companies to affirm the location is free of any utilities that may run through the area underground.
The age-specific structures and children should only play on the playgrounds designed for their age group. When installing multiple structures designed for different age groups, they must be separated with fencing and adult supervision will need to be provided to insure children only play on the structures designed for their age group.
Working with an experienced play structure supplier will benefit you in getting the most play equipment for your dollar. For example:
These experts will ensure that you have everything you need for a safe, successful playground that fits into your budget.
There are two different types of play structures with regard to materials. The first and the most common is a metal structure with some plastic components, such as the slides. Wood structures are also an option but are less common in commercial or educational applications.
How many play elements do you need? How many can your area support? These are two great questions and can be answered by your play structure supplier. Space planning is crucial in answering these questions.
The surfacing of the play area is crucial. The first question you must address is what type of surfacing will be used. There are three basic types of surfacing:
Maintaining the play structure and the area around it is critical. Inspections should be performed on a regular basis looking for any issues and any found should be addressed as soon as possible. It is best that you keep a log of these inspections that include a list of problems found and the corrections made. These maintenance forms and other information usually accompany the structure that you have chosen.
There are many suppliers of play structures to choose from. Look for one that seems to be as much a consultant as they are a vendor as you will want help selecting the structure that meets your need. If you are looking for a turn-key solution, you need to make sure that the supplier you choose uses professionally-trained installers. The supplier should also be willing to do electronic space-planning for you (free of charge) so you can be sure the structure(s) will fit in the space you have available. Using a local company is not necessarily a must as long as the company can provide you with the sales, support and installation services you need in your area.
By using this basic information I have outlined as a guide, you should be able to identify the play structure that is the correct for your needs. If you have any additional questions or would like me to recommend a play structure supplier, comment below or send me an email.
Authored by Barry Gilreath, National Director of Sales and Operations/CPSI of JM Installations