Safe flooring for children outdoor playground
Children can sometimes get seriously hurt while playing at playgrounds. The most serious are head injuries that can cause permanent brain damage or even death. Priority of CEN is to define a criterion that will measure the ability of a playgrounds surface to prevent head injuries in children. Head Injury Criterion method (HIC) is based on this idea. By measuring the kinetic energy produced by impact between human head and some other object, scientist have been able to measure the level of probability of serious head injuries arising from that impact.
Safety surface for children playground
Children safety is an absolute priority. The function of children playgrounds is to develop physical and motor skills, space orientation, jumping, climbing, rolling… Constructors of playgrounds for children have a subtle task to make the playground completely safe for children and at the same time not to restrain children in their movements and play.
European Committee for Standardization CEN has defined standards EN1176 and EN1177 for children playgrounds. Standard EN1177 defines the quality of surfaces for children playgrounds and standard EN 1176 is for the equipment on the playground such as swings, see-saws, slides…
The basic rule set by EN 1177 is that playground surface has to be able to absorb the impact of a child falling to the ground.
Injuries caused by falls from various equipment and toys in children playground can be quite serious. Most dangerous are head injuries that can cause permanent brain damage or even death. CEN priority is to give a criterion that will define the ability of a flooring material to decrease the possibility of head injuries caused by child falling down. Head Injury Criterion method CIN is based upon this idea. By measuring kinetic energy produced by impact between human head and some other object, scientist have been able to measure the level of probability of serious head injuries arising from that impact. The HIC can be used to assess safety related to vehicles and traffic accidents also.
HIC method can define Critical fall height for every material used in production of playground floorings. A Critical fall height (CFH) is the maximum height of fall from play equipment to the ground. If a child falls from this height it is statistically unlikely that it will end up with serious or lethal head injury. Every height over CFH standard is considered to be dangerous for children.
Standard materials used for playground floors have the following CHF:
|Material||Particle radius (mm)||Thickness of layer (mm)||Critical fall height(cm)|
These materials are not expensive but have certain flaws. In time they are filled with all sorts of rubbish: cigarette buds, cat litter, and glass. The sand falls in to children shoes. Gravel looks like candy to small children and they tend to swallow it. Grainy material is easily spreaded around leaving the playground bare, usually at the places that should be covered to protect children from injuries.
Modern floors for playgrounds are recently made out of shredded rubber. Rubber, well known for its elasticity, absorbs impacts well so it’s perfect for children playgrounds.
Rubber floors can be divided in to two types by the way of installing:
Poured in-place rubber surface is mixed and poured on site, so that it can be custom molded into a wide range of shapes and thickness. Recycled shredded rubber with 2-4 mm granulation is mixed with elastic polyurethane binder specially formulated for installation over aggregates like asphalt, concrete, or stone. This layer is than coated with 1 cm thick coat of colored rubber (EPDM granules). This two – component material have high ability to absorb impacts.
Rubber tile playground surface
Rubber tile playground surface are also made out of shredded rubber mixed with colors and polyurethane binder and pressed in to molds. Rubber tiles have square 50x50cm shape or double T shape. They can be installed over gravel or concrete (concrete has to have a drainage system of holes because of the rain). Rubber tiles can be connected to surface by profiles or glued down.
Playgrounds made out of shredded rubber are not slippery, they are easy to clean and repair, they are safe, comfortable and they dry up easily.
Playground surfaces made out of rubber have the fallowing Critical fall height values :
|Thickness of rubber tile or pour-in-plays rubber surface (mm)||Critical fall height (cm)|
This means that if the slides highest point is 180 cm, the rubber surface surrounding the slide should be at least 50 mm thick. Standard 1177 should be applied on the playgrounds in our country because no price is too high when it comes to our children safety.