Because happy and entertained children equal content and relaxed parents, play facilities fulfil a vital ingredient for successful holiday parks, both attracting and retaining the family spend. With sufficient pre-planning and attention to detail, the initial investment will definitely pay back, triggering a large percentage of repeat visitors, as well as attracting fi rst-time bookers. Installing a play area close to the holiday park site reception makes a lot of sense, as it allows for natural supervision. Thinking of added revenue opportunities, ideally, the play area would also be close to the café. This allows parents to have a drink while the kids play, therefore increasing secondary spend.
FUN AND CHALLENGING
The more attractive, enticing, challenging and fun the outdoor play equipment is, the more likely it will be that visitors to the play area will continue to visit and enjoy all the facilities on offer; generally acknowledged as one of the deciding factors on choice of holiday destination. It’s important for guests to be reassured that faulty equipment, improper surfaces, and careless behaviour won’t spoil the fun. It is estimated that there are approximately 40,000 injuries to children on playgrounds each year which result in a hospital visit. Not all accidents are related to the equipment - perhaps as few as 40% - and of these 80% result in a fall to the surface. Of the remaining accidents, at least 4% involve children being struck by a swing seat (although the resultant injury is usually not serious. A similar number being bitten by dogs and being cut by glass within the designated play area.
Of the equipment involved in fall injuries the figures suggest these percentages: • Swings 40% • Climbers 23% • Slides 21% This does not mean swings are more dangerous - just that there are more of them and they are more popular. One of the most dangerous items on the playground are overhead bars which rotate. The most important factors, in evaluating the safety of any playground, are proper surface, design and spacing, and equipment inspection and maintenance. An appropriate playground surface is one of the most important factors in reducing injuries — and the severity of injuries — that occur when kids fall from equipment. The surface under the playground equipment should be soft enough and thick enough to soften the impact of a child’s fall. Keep in mind that even proper surfacing can’t prevent all injuries. Also, the greater the height of the equipment, the more likely kids may get injured if they fall from it. When planning your play area be age aware. Playground equipment should be designed for three different age groups: infants and toddlers under two, then two to five-year-olds (pre-schoolers), and five to 12-yearolds (school-age kids).
In the safest playgrounds, play areas for younger children are separated from those meant for older kids and signs should clearly designate each area to prevent confusion. Younger children should not play on equipment designed for older kids because the equipment sizes and proportions won’t be right for small kids, and this can lead to injury. Likewise, older kids shouldn’t play on equipment designed for younger ones. Smaller equipment and spaces can cause problems for bigger kids. Select a material for the play area that is not only durable, but that also suits the theme and location of the holiday park. Those products should comply with the European safety regulations for outdoor play equipment EN1176. Having selected equipment and surfacing which meets the Standards and have a post-installation inspection carried out by an independent body.
When planning a play area or a refurbishment of a playground it always makes sense to obtain professional design and layout advice. It is essential to inspect the playground and equipment regularly weekly, quarterly and annually. If you are carrying out in-house inspections, find a training course, to ensure you or your staff are adequately qualified. Either way, the annual inspection should be carried out by an independent specialist. Have an effective maintenance programme which repairs faults quickly. Don’t rest on your laurels either and have a timescale for improving and up-dating playgrounds, ideally, every season. A clear evidence trail to demonstrate your due diligence will uphold the demonstration of your duty of care should an incident occur. The safety of children on their playgrounds doesn’t just depend upon the initial design of the area and the selection of equipment within it. Its continued management and the delivery of high quality inspection and maintenance schedules are crucial if the safe opportunities for children to play creatively are to be preserved. Of course, a good maintenance regime will significantly extend the life of your equipment and reduce the likelihood of accidents. Regular servicing and replacement of worn out parts is essential to keep your play area safe and compliant.
There are some clear checklists available, to ensure the equipment is designed and spaced to be safe such as guardrails and protective barriers should be in place for elevated surfaces, including platforms and ramps. Play structures more than 30 inches high should be spaced at least nine feet apart while swings, seesaws, and other equipment with moving parts should be located in an area separate from the rest of the playground. Swings should be limited to two per bay and tot swings with full bucket seats should have their own bay. Swings should be spaced at least 24 inches apart and 30 inches between a swing and the support frame. Be sure there are no spaces that could trap a child’s head, arm, or any other body part. All openings on equipment (for example, rungs on a ladder or bars on a guardrail) should measure less than 3½ inches or they should be wider than nine inches. Climbing nets should have openings that are either too small to allow a child’s body through or large enough to prevent entrapment of the head. Net perimeters which are 17-18 inches pose entrapment hazards. Playground equipment with moving parts — like seesaws and merry-gorounds — should be checked for pinch points that could pinch or crush a child’s finger or hand. Remember, not to become a victim of your own success. Too many kids on the equipment at one time can be dangerous. Everyone should start on the same side of the equipment and move across it in the same direction. Play is an important part of kids’ physical, social, intellectual, and emotional development. Following these safety tips will help your guests enjoy their holiday visit, and keep them coming back year, after year, for more.
In The Fun Driving Seat
World of Rides have served the holiday park industry with a fully comprehensive range of coin-operated leisure rides and equipment for nearly five decades, ranging from battery rides and static rides to quadricycles and rowing boats. “2019 is going to be a milestone year for the UK’s holiday parks, as Brexit and the fluctuating exchange rates are making more and more families stay at home in the UK for their holidays,” says David Robinson of World of Leisure. “However, if operators do not invest in new equipment to entertain their visitors and guests during this exceptional year, then they may not return in future years,” David advises. “For the past few years our Go-Karts, Super Hero Trikes and licensed character static rides have been the firm favorites with children, but for holiday park operators are suddenly asking for our driving school cars and above ground pools with bumper boats, in order to satisfy the demand of their customers for new experiences,” he adds.
World Of Rides
Tel. 0191 49 20 999
On A Play Mission
If you are looking for expert guidance on creating or refurbishing a holiday park play area, then, look no further than Fenland Leisure Products. The fun areas that are created by Fenland Leisure Products team will be safe and happy places for family members of all ages to play, stay active and aid in the building of healthy relationships. To do this, the Fenland Leisure Products team will design, manufacture, supply and install quality commercial playground equipment and associated components with care and professionalism at all times. Fenland Leisure Products create a welcome and happy working conditions for all of staff members; this aids in the provision of excellent customer service to all who are in contact with them. For project assistance or any playground product information call to discuss your project plans, however far in the future.
Fenland Leisure Products
Tel. 01354 638 359