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Play doesn’t stop in the winter months. Research shows that children who play outside during the winter tend to be healthier and more active than those who stay inside. While winter play is necessary for staying healthy and active, there are some extra precautions to complete before the winter weather sets in. Read on to see our simple, one-stop checklist for preparing your playground for the colder months ahead.

Make a Maintenance Checklist

Regular playground maintenance is essential to keep everything in top shape year-round. It's especially important as we head into colder temperatures in North America. Here are some steps to take to "winterize" a play area:

1. Prepare Playground Equipment for Extreme Cold

  • If you have water equipment installed, be sure to clear and drain water lines. 
  • If you have wooden equipment installed, understand that frigid temperatures and rainfall can rapidly deteriorate if prevention measures are not taken. Coat your wooden equipment in a non-toxic wood preservative to give it the extra protection it needs to withstand the winter weather. If long-term maintenance of wooden playground equipment is not ideal, consider replacing some or all of the playground with weather-resistant materials like steel, aluminum, and heavy-duty plastics. 
  • Be sure to plan how to clear snow on your playground, whether with a de-icer agent or manual removal. If you decide to go a chemical route, check with the playground equipment manufacturer to ensure the de-icer is safe to use.
  • Always check on your hardware throughout the winter. Extreme winter conditions can cause hardware to loosen. 
  • Unfortunately, not all playground equipment accommodates the winter. It’s essential to go through each piece of equipment and decide whether to open certain areas to children. For example, if a climber becomes too wet and slippery, consider blocking it off with a tarp or safety tape.

2. Make Sure Safety Surfacing is Ready for Winter

  • If you use poured-in-place rubber surfacing, be sure to fill in any cracks before ice can form within them and cause further damage.
  • If you use loose-fill surfacing options such as mulch or wood chips, be sure to fill in any sparse areas to provide adequate attenuation (fall protection).
  • If your current surfacing method has a low impact attenuation (the material’s ability to absorb shock), consider upgrading to a higher quality option. Freezing temperatures may decrease your surfacing’s impact attenuation, so investing in suitable surfacing is vital to counteract this decrease. GT Impax has great surfacing options that can accommodate any season.

3. Take Down Your Shade Canopies

  • Many shade canopies cannot withstand extreme snow buildup, so it’s important to take them down to avoid the risk of severe damage.
  • GameTime’s shade structures have a QuickRelease™ mechanism that makes it easy to remove playground shades during the winter months.

Keep Children Playing Year-Round

Outdoor play is pivotal for children no matter the season, but your equipment may need extra care in preparation for the winter months. The best way to prepare your playground for winter is to understand your play equipment’s unique needs and prep it before the cold weather sets in. Make sure to perform routine hardware and surfacing checks and remove fabric shades if heavy snow is expected.

Have a question about the needs of your playground equipment? Need to improve your surfacing or shade? Contact a GameTime representative to make these upgrades today and create a play experience enjoyed every day of the year.