With the cold winter months fast approaching, you may be wondering what you can do to make your school’s playground safer and more appealing. Ice, wind and rain can make playing outside more hazardous than in the warmer summer weather.
We have put together some tips on how to prepare your playground for winter to make sure it’s safe and pupils still get to enjoy being outside.
Common Problems for Playgrounds in Winter
Play areas should allow children to play on the surface without any fears of injuring themselves at any time of year. In addition, they should also feel comfortable with the playground as weather can have a massive impact on how the child feels when playing outside. If you’re looking for a softer surface for your play area, check out our safety surface designs for schools and nurseries.
During winter, most of the negative factors can come into action. Temperatures can drop below zero causing a freezing effect to occur and making the ground rock solid (making it easier for children to have a serious injury on it). As well as this, pupils may start to huddle around together for warmth and feel discomfort due to the cold. It’s important to realise that children aren’t as resistant to the cold as adults, so they need to be kept as warm as possible on days like these.
Rain is another common weather type during winter. For playgrounds which are built on top of a grass surface, the ground can slowly turn muddy and lead to children bringing in mud and other contaminants into the school. This can become unsafe and annoying incredibly quick but it’s quite common during wet weather. There are plenty of ways to refresh your playground and improve its usability and appearance.
Lastly, snow is a huge factor during this season. Buildings like canopies can become dangerous if too much snow ends up building on top of them. In addition, equipment can become unusable in some circumstances as it can become wet and slippy and pose a threat for kids to hurt themselves on.
Keeping Your Play Area Safe in Winter
There are many things you can see to help keep your play area safe in winter and reduce the likelihood of any injuries or children becoming too cold outside. Here are some ideas for how to enhance the safety of your outdoor space:
- Use surface de-icer to remove slippery ice
- Maintain play flooring to get rid of moss and contaminants
- Consider having artificial grass to eliminate mud from real grass
- Provide shelter and alternative play spaces
All these things can help create a nice environment outside when kids may not be as keen to go out and play. Visit this page to see our range of outdoor leisure grass surfaces.
Winter Maintenance for Playgrounds
Keeping your playground in top condition is vital during the winter periods. Many schools just keep children in during this season which can be annoying for students (as they can’t release their energy properly) and teachers (as they must cope with energetic students). However, with a well-maintained playground, this problem shouldn’t occur as much. Click here to find more tips on making sure your outdoor spaces are correctly prepared for the winter weather.
Make sure to keep snow off the equipment as much as possible. Adding de-icer and removing snow manually will be the most effective method of keeping your playground clean of snow. If you are planning on using machinery or chemical agents to remove the snow, make sure you check the specification of the flooring provided by the manufacturer to avoid any damage occurring.
Playgrounds on grass are the most vulnerable to winter, most of the time. The snow can turn the grass into a nasty slush and if the grass is subjected to freezing temperatures then the ground can become rock solid. A good way to counter this is to invest in artificial grass. You can find out a lot more about the reasons behind this choice here, but artificial grass is incredibly versatile in seasons like this and can really keep kids safe who use it.
Playground Shelter for Colder Weather
As mentioned before, cold weather can have a huge effect on children compared to adults. When the temperature hits below 0, playgrounds are not as appealing for children and they may not want to go out. To avoid this problem, building some playground shelters can really help keep the kids warm and comfortable.
By installing shelter on the playground, children have a safe place to go during the cold weather. Giving them a simple shelter can alter the way they act in the environment by quite a mile. They will feel a lot more comfortable and chilled out as they have a space to warm up and cover themselves from the cold for a bit.
Shelters also provide a nice and relaxing social space for children to communicate and interact with each other. With the shelter also allowing fresh air to enter, children can get the fresh air that they need whilst being able to keep warm. A perfect way to counter the cold, shelters are a necessity on a playground if temperatures are low and you plan to allow your pupils out.
Structures like these can also be used all year round for different games and activities. Visit our post on imaginative playground designs to see how else these could be used.
Keeping Children Warm Outside
You may just believe that a shelter is the only way to keep kids warm during this cold season, however, there are other ways to keep them warm. These include things like:
- Wearing winter clothing – Quite an obvious one but make sure kids are prepared to go out by wearing hats, gloves, scarfs and coats. This can avoid the kids becoming uncomfortable and catching any colds.
- Promote exercise – Sounds strange but try to get them moving if they are outside. Moving around will keep them warm and occupied and it gives them a chance to release built up energy. Just make sure that you have prepared your play area beforehand!
- Hot drinks and food – Giving kids hot food and drinks will easily help them keep warm as well as keeping them full.
Overall, winter can be a difficult season for active participation in certain sports and engaging with playground equipment. By following this blog post, hopefully, you will feel a lot more prepared when it comes to the winter season and will be able to keep kids warm whilst they enjoy themselves outside.