There are about 200,000 injuries on public playgrounds in the U.S. every year, according to a 2010 report by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Following the American Society for Testing and Materials’ regulations and your state’s regulations regarding fencing in and around a playground helps make the enclosures look more attractive, keep children safe from potential hazards and facilitate adult supervision.
The best type of fencing material to use around a playground depends on your area’s respective regulations. Materials often used for enclosures include chain-link, heavy-duty metal like steel or aluminum, wood, concrete masonry and natural elements, such as shrubs. Some communities require that the fence allow others to see children on a playground from the outside of the enclosure. When you use lumber for a fence, the wood should be free of toxins, have a smooth finish and be splinter-free, according to Head Start. If a playground uses a wall in lieu of a fence, its design should discourage skateboarding and have anti-graffiti coating, according to the City of San Diego.
Some communities require fences around playgrounds when they are within 30 feet of parking lots or streets. Fences should be at least 48 inches tall, according to the Environment Rating Scales Institute. Depending on your area, you may need a fence that’s six or eight feet tall. The bottom of the fence should not be more than three inches from the ground. When installing a fence, space pickets four inches apart or less so kids can’t pass between them. To prevent injuries, fences should have smooth caps instead of finials. Prevent children from being trapped between the top of a picket fence by designing the tops so the angles are greater than 55 degrees. To discourage fence climbing, trim back low-hanging tree branches and avoid placing fence boards horizontally.
When a playground is part of a facility, the U.S. General Services Administration recommends creating buffer zones around the outside perimeter of a fence. Buffer zones allow adults to observe individuals who approach a playground. They may also help block wind and noise, and prevent vehicles from accidentally hitting the fence or entering the playground. You can create a buffer zone with open grassy areas, hedges, rows of trees or a low berm.
Separate Play Areas
Depending on the state in which you live, you may need to use a fence to separate different areas of a playground. For example, a fence around a swing set creates different play areas for children of different ages. A report by the U.S. General Services Administration on the Whole Building Design Institute website states that if a playground is part of a facility, your state may require you to install fences to separate play areas for infants, toddlers, preschool children and school-age kids.