Children’s outdoor playgrounds are being allowed to re-open in the UK, after a long closure due to coronavirus. And that’s wonderful news for all of us with children who’ve been missing the slides and swings and climbing frames in our local park.
But before we all rush out for first go on the roundabout, safety experts at the Register of Play Inspectors (the body that oversees playground inspectors) are warning parents to be mindful of 2 keys things:
- Don’t go into a playground before you’re sure it’s been officially re-opened
- Remember that the playground’s been closed for 3 months and may not have had a safety inspection in that time
“We’re expecting playgrounds to be very heavily used,” Jon adds, “especially with the warm weather we are currently experiencing, so it is vital that playgrounds are thoroughly inspected to ensure a satisfactory level of safety is in place. Owners have a responsibility to open playgrounds safely.”
What date are children’s playgrounds opening?
This depends on the current restrictions where you live:
- In Scotland, playgrounds can re-open from 29 June
- In England, playgrounds can re-open from 4 July.
- In Northern Ireland, playgrounds can re-open from 10 July
- In Wales, playgrounds can re-open from 20 July
So, when my local children’s playground opens, what safety precautions do I need to take?
The RPII, says Jon, is particularly keen to for parents to be careful of any playground features that may have been secured to put them out of use.
Other important safety tips include:
- Do not remove any plastic fencing or other temporary barriers to the playground that may have been put up during lockdown.
- Follow the current social-distancing guidelines when you’re in the playground. and encourage your children to do the same.
- If the playground is busy, consider coming back at a later time. Talk to your children about this possibility before you set out.
- Wash your hands and your children’s hands before and after visiting the playground.
- Take hand sanitiser with you – and consider taking a bottle of water to use to clean your children’s hands if they get covered in mud or sand. Ensure your children are using hand sanitiser frequently.
What if my local playground isn’t open?
It’s not compulsory for playgrounds to open once the government says they can. So even if you live in an area where children’s playgrounds can now re-open, it’s up to your local council or – whoever owns and operates the playground – how quickly they actually open each playground up.
If the children’s playground near you hasn’t opened, it may well be that the operators are taking some time to spruce it up, remove temporary barriers and make sure it safe for children to play in.