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Kid at Heart

August 31st, 2012 — 11:00am

By: Laura Shore

I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania and was lucky to have a large backyard, with lots of trees, greenery and a swing set. Naturally, this gave way to me spending an extensive amount of time outdoors, whether I was just lying in the grass, gardening or going to a playground at the park– which was always a monumental affair. Playgrounds seem to create a spark that brings out excitement in children. And wouldn’t I love to be a kid today–with the amazing advancements in play equipment and technology.

I remember attending natural playground castles fully composed of wood; fun to explore, but nothing like the IPEMA-certified sets that are built today. I remember when the metal slides were sun-baked and stung your legs a little on the way down.

I recently came to learn that my childhood playground received a make-over. I was so excited to see what the designers and installers had made of my special childhood place.

The playground was designed and installed by Burke Premier Play Environments, an IPEMA-certified product line that has only the best for the children who now attend my old elementary school.

Vinyl slides, impact softening mulch, and gleaming blue, fresh painted monkey bars were put in place for children to enjoy. Compared to the old playground, the new playground is a much needed upgrade in terms of safety, but also for children’s learning abilities.


The old playground at my elementary school
Source: Cranberry Patch


The new textures and colors added to the structure alone will expand a child’s experience while playing. I am super excited for the school year to start so these children will be able to learn and play in a new environment. Hopefully, it will become well-used, loved and a lasting part of their childhood memories!



The new playground under construction
Source: Cranberry Patch



What are some of your favorite childhood memories from the playground? Is there a playground in your area that has been recently updated?

Let your child explore a new play area this weekend! Tell us about it and have a wonderfully happy Labor Day!


Source: Back to School: Haine Elementary Gets New Playground

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Tips and Tricks for a Better, Safer Summer at the Playground

May 31st, 2012 — 7:34pm

With Memorial Day behind us and students at schools across the United States either out for the summer or counting the days to go, the best time of year to experience the playground – the summer season – is upon us. While the weather is kind, daylight is abundant and the days seem to be a little more carefree, there are still a few measures that can improve playground safety and overall health for your children.

Here are some tips to keep the swings moving for your family this year:

1. Keep kids hydrated – Taking water with you to the playground is a great way to prevent dehydration and keep kids energized. If your kids don’t like to drink plain water, you may try sweetening it with some lemon or lime. Experts recommend offering children water six times a day – even if they say they aren’t thirsty – to ensure hydration. Children who are becoming dehydrated often suffer from fatigue and irritability. (Source: Kaboose)


2. Respect the sun – Like a trip to the beach, a trip to the playground should not be taken without sunscreen. The CDC recommends a minimum of SPF 15 with UVA and UVB protection for children, which should be applied to exposed skin 30 minutes before a venture outside. You should also take the bottle with you to the playground and apply it several times throughout the day. Other measures for preventing sunburns include playing in shady areas, covering up exposed skin and wearing a hat and sunglasses. (Source: Centers for Disease Control)

3. Check for hot equipment surfaces – It’s no secret that – when exposed to the summer sun – playground equipment surfaces can become hot, causing a jolt of discomfort for children. By checking the heat of equipment surfaces with your hand and advising children what areas of the equipment are cool enough to play on, you can prevent any early exits from playtime. You may also want to dress younger children in long pants or bring an old pillow case or small blanket for them to sit on while going down slides. (Source: Landscape Online)

4. Play during the coolest hours – Early afternoon is typically the hottest segment of the day, so by using playgrounds in the morning and evening, you and your kids can experience play during the nicest hours summer has to offer, while also lowering other playground risks in the process.
(Source: Landscape Online)

With a little effort, there is no doubt that summer is the best season to go to the playground and experience outdoor play. We hope you’ll get up, get out and enjoy everything the season has to offer, while also making some great memories with your children on the playground this year!

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IPEMA and Safety

April 27th, 2012 — 1:29pm

At IPEMA, it is our goal to alleviate the worries of parents and caregivers at the playground with a simple seal. IPEMA certification provides peace-of-mind for caregivers and reputability for equipment and surfacing manufacturers. While you may know a bit about what we do, we thought – in light of National Playground Safety Week – we would share a bit with you on how we make playgrounds safer by offering certification for equipment and surfacing on public playgrounds.

ASTM & CSA Compliance – IPEMA doesn’t invent its own standards, but rather functions as a third-party certification service that ensures playground equipment and surfacing materials are in accordance with applicable ASTM International standards and CSA standards in Canada.

We use the following ASTM and CSA credentials when evaluating products:


  • ASTM F1487-07, excluding sections 7.1.1, 10 and 12.6.1 – Standard Consumer Safety Performance Specification for Playground Equipment for Public use

  •  CAN/CSA-Z614-07 excluding clauses 9.8, 10, and 11 – Children’s Playspaces and Equipment in Canada.

  • ASTM F1292-09 – Standard Specification for Impact Attenuation of Surface Systems Under and Around Playground Equipment

  • ASTM F2075-10a – Standard Specification for Engineered Wood Fiber for Use as a Playground Safety Surface Under and Around Playground Equipment


Click here to view our full list of certified products and find out if your local playground equipment and surfacing is IPEMA certified.

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Safety for All: An Overview of ADA Regulations

April 26th, 2012 — 1:09pm

Last month, updated ADA Standards went into effect, changing the nationwide requirements for public playground construction and alterations. While we have touched on the importance of equal play for all in the past, we also wanted to note – as part of National Playground Safety Week – the improved safety the new standards create.

Access Routes – Wider access routes and smaller grade requirements on rises and runs will reduce the risks of those using power chairs or mobility devices.

Elevated Ramps – Smaller surface openings, lower vertical changes, larger landings with smaller distances between them and improved hand railing requirements will reduce the risk of falling.

Surfacing – New surfacing requirements help reduce the impact and risk for injury for anyone using the playground.

Transfer Systems – Standards for transfer systems lower the risk of injury for paraplegic users when accessing playground equipment.

Ground Level Equipment/Tables – Larger depths and widths around tables with small tops will prevent falls, bumps and bruises and make equipment easier to use. Lower ground-level upper body equipment provides shorter falls.

Connected Components – 50 percent of all elevated components of a playground must be connected by elevated ramps or transfer systems – allowing for easier access for handicapped users and reducing the risk associated from repeatedly having to go from the ground to elevated levels.

For more on new the new ADA Standards, check out IPEMA’s Checklist for Access.

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Safe Play, Free Play: One in the Same

April 25th, 2012 — 12:56pm

As a parent, perhaps one of the most difficult things to balance for your children is freedom and safety. Studies have shown that unstructured free play encourages both physical and emotional health by allowing children to develop their minds and bodies on their own. And while parents and caregivers should certainly supervise their children and encourage safety, it is not desirable to intervene and strictly direct your child’s playtime at any and all moments.

At IPEMA, we encourage free play by certifying safe equipment and surfacing that meets ASTM industry standards. While this certainly cannot stop every possible scratch and injury, it does provide a safer environment for children to experience free play and reduces the risk of potential injury. We believe softer landings and sturdier, age appropriate structures help reduce serious injuries.

But what about the rest? Well, as parents, we believe we should educate our children on the value of safety, how to spot risks and encourage good judgment while on the playground.

There are also plenty of great resources out there – such as those offered through our Voice of Play initiative and the NPPS – that will aid in keeping our kids safe while also experiencing the benefits of unstructured free play.

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Don’t Overlook the Surface

April 24th, 2012 — 12:59pm

Any child who has ever gone to the playground has fallen at one time or another. Often, the gap between stumble and rise occurs in the window of a few short seconds. What makes this such a seamless action is something that many playground regulars may even overlook – surfacing.

The days of hard surfaces – like the tightly-packed natural ground or concrete – and many of the scabs, bruises and aches that came with them have begun to disappear, as more absorbent surfacing materials are now the standard.

In fact, under new ADA Standards  written by the Department of Justice and which went into effect on March 15 — any playground presently undergoing construction or alteration must have surfacing that complies with ASTM F1292-09 or -04 Standard Specification for Impact Attenuation of Surface Systems Under and Around Playground Equipment.

If your community’s playground is in need of new surfacing, you may be wondering what your options are.

Here are some of the most popular – and ADA compliant – options on the market today:

Engineered Wood Fiber – Made from excess all-natural wood from the lumber manufacturing process, engineered wood fiber is non-toxic and does not contain artificial ingredients. The manufacturing process meets the demands of ASTM-F2075-10 standards.

Poured-in-Place Rubber – A combination of rubber granules, urethane and recycled tires, poured-in-place surfacing typically consists of a cushioning rubber layer and is bound together with a top wear course made from durable rubber or synthetic, grass-like turf materials.

Rubber Mulch – Made from recycled rubber particles, chunks, nuggets or shreds, rubber mulch is often made from cleaned and colored recycled tire rubber.

Rubber Tiles – Composed of non-toxic, recycled rubber, this surfacing is created from rubber particles that are molded together to create an impact-absorbent tile.

Artificial Turf – Made from chemical fiber and intended to simulate the look and feel of soft grass, artificial turf options also include a soft infill and layer of padding underneath for increased impact resistance.

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National Playground Safety Week: A Call to Action

April 23rd, 2012 — 3:57pm

Today marks the beginning of the 15th annual National Playground Safety Week – an initiative intended to promote good judgment and safe play among children on the playground — or as founding organization, the National Program for Playground Safety, (NPPS)puts it:

“National Playground Safety Week is a time to focus on children’s outdoor play environments. A time to pledge to use good judgment when playing. A time for gratitude for all the adults who work tirelessly on maintaining our playgrounds.”

In honor of this national event, we will be sharing safety tips and demonstrating how IPEMA certification of playground equipment and surfacing helps support safe play in our blog, while also offering highlights from the week’s events and resources on Twitter and Facebook.

To kick things off, we wanted to show our support for this initiative by encouraging you – yes, you – to help increase national awareness. In 2004, 45 states recognized National Playground Safety Week. This year, only 19 states have made an official declaration. The goal, of course, is 50 annual state declarations – and while it may be too late for a 2012 declaration, it’s never too early to get involved and even to start thinking about 2013.

As NPPS notes on its website, many states require a state resident to initiate the proclamation process by writing a letter to their state governor’s office.  Your efforts today could provide safer play for kids in the future.

Of course, National Playground Safety Week is more than just an awareness effort – it’s a mission. Check out some of the other ways you can contribute on the NPPS website.

This week will also honor recipients of two annual awards: The Ahren’s Playground Safety Advocate of the Year Award and the John Preston Playground Safety Award.

About NPPS: Founded in 1995, NPPS is a non-profit entity of the University of Northern Iowa that promotes safe play on American playgrounds by distributing educational materials, training and safety standards. NPPS’s National Playground Safety Week initiative began in 1997 to promote safe play and to honor and support advocates of playground safety.  You can help support them this week and in the future by following them on Twitter and Facebook .

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The Emotional Benefits of Play

April 16th, 2012 — 2:29pm

You are probably well aware that playis extremely beneficial for children in many ways. Last month, we covered some of the core physical benefits of play,  so this month we are shifting our focus to the emotional benefits of play.


1.      Play Helps Build Self-Concept and Self-Esteem

Children love making up games and creating rules to follow. When they achieve the goals they have set, they are able to appraise their own strengths and abilities while feeling a sense of accomplishment. Self-esteem is an important early development in our children, and the playground is a great place to start.

Voice of Play

2.      Play Can Decrease Conflict, and Worry

Play can be therapeutic for children who have suffered from a wide range of stressful experiences, and it can be a great way for children to “play out” their struggles. It also allows children to engage in positive socialization, which can decrease violent tendencies.


3.      Play Helps Bring Happiness and Joy

Play is a great way to bring joy to the life of a child. By exposing children to humor, laughter, and a positive social environment, you increase their ability to learn coping skills and relaxation techniques. They will also be able to experiment with their own emotions, paving the way for positive development in the future.


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How You Can Encourage Your Children to Play

April 9th, 2012 — 3:40pm

Getting your kids away from the TV, computer, video games and other electronic distractions and onto a playground can sometimes be a challenge. Nevertheless, studies continue to prove the physical and psychological benefits of play are important to your child’s development and maturity. Here are a few ways you can encourage a better, healthier life for your children by taking time out of yours and your children’s busy schedules for daily outdoor play.


1.       Teach Games At Home

Take a few minutes to research some active games your child might enjoy and schedule a play date. This is also a great time to introduce safety guidelines to your child, and even to teach them how to do things such as share or wait in line for the slide. If your children learn how to play at home, they will take that energy with them to recess at school. You can also take your kids to a local playground on the weekends and introduce them to new environments. Encouraging your children to stay healthy at a young age can pave the way for a healthy future.


2.      Let Your Kids Have Control Of Play

You always want to monitor for safety hazards and dangerous behavior, but you also want to leave enough space to allow your children to come up with their own games. Free play has its own health advantages over structured play, so go ahead and let your kids make up rules, change them and play at their own pace.


3.      Take the Play Pledge

Taking our Play Pledge is a great way to remind yourself to keep your kids playing. Pin it on the fridge or take it into the office, or put it anywhere else you can be reminded of your commitment to the overall health of your children.

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Making Peace with Mud: 3 Ways to Keep Your Kids Outside and Your Home Clean This Spring

April 2nd, 2012 — 2:32pm

By Adam J. Mohney


With spring just around the corner, we will soon be reunited with two old friends; sunshine and warm temperatures. Unfortunately, an old foe will also be making its triumphant return; mud. Yes, months of thaw and frequent rain showers can make the ground softer and outdoor play much, much messier. If your kids find joy in puddle-splashing and rolling on the ground, you know that a daily hour of play can lead to some not-so-welcome cleanup efforts.

But take heart – playing in the mud is actually a wonderful experience for kids, and although it may be a stretch to say the same for busy parents – there are ways to make this experience a good one for both you and your kids. Here are three tips for maintaining a mud-free home this spring.

1. Designate Play Clothes – The last thing you want to do is spend your evening attempting to salvage a brand new pair of blue jeans. Take time to pick out several sets of clothes for your child to wear outdoors on muddy days and try to keep them separate from the rest of their clothes. If your child doesn’t have old clothes that fit, you may be able to find some inexpensive options in local thrift stores and consignment shops.

2. Have a Play Clothes Laundry Day – If you’re like me, you like to stay on top of your cleaning and chores. This may be one circumstance where it can be better to wait. If every day turns into a mud bath, designate a time each week to do the load of play clothes. With enough outfits, your kids won’t have to worry about not having enough clothes to get through the week and you won’t have to worry about doing an additional, small load of muddy clothes every day.

3. Create a Post-Play Mud Zone – Even worse than muddy laundry in most cases is the mud tracking that occurs upon return indoors. Muddy sneakers, jeans and t-shirts are furniture and carpeting’s worst enemy. That said, providing a place for clean-up – ideally composed mainly of mats, concrete or wood – can save you lots of work. Have your kids dress down and take an immediate bath or shower to keep the elements of the great outdoors where they belong.

While mud may wreak havoc this time of year, it is no excuse for preventing play. In fact, getting dirty can be an exciting experience for many kids. By creating a structured plan for muddy play days, you can also jump at an opportunity to teach your children a great lesson in responsibility and care of personal property. If problems persist, don’t take play away; try incentivizing them with some Friday night pizza or a slumber party for taking proper precautions. If that doesn’t work; I see some time with the mop and bucket in their future.

Are You A Master of Mud Prevention? Share your strategies with us by commenting or on Facebook or Twitter.

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