Common Property Play Areas
It is all fun until someone gets hurt
One of the advantages of living in an estate or complex is the fact that you and your family benefit from shared facilities on common property, such as clubhouses, swimming pools or play areas. While these can be a huge bonus – especially with kids at home during the school holidays – they do come with some inherent risks that should be borne in mind by parents and explained to children.
It is a jungle out there
In this newsletter, we will look at some of the risks associated with play areas – or jungle gyms as they are commonly known. Climbing frames, slides, swings and other equipment exert a powerful pull over children of all ages. They are a great way to burn up a lot of energy in a relatively confined space, and imaginative kids will transform them into castles, spaceships and pirate vessels.
Even the best jungle gyms can be hazardous to kids, with perhaps the most serious risk being injuries associated with falling from height. These can range from a bump on the head to something more problematic, up to and including broken limbs.
Other possible accidental injuries including splinters from wooden equipment, bruises and grazes from falls, and cuts from glass or sharp edges. Many if not all these risks can be removed by regular inspections and maintenance.
In particular, check that the bolts and screws holding equipment together are firmly tightened, with no protruding ends. Look for splinters and nail heads that could cause painful cuts, and ensure any wooden elements are sanded smooth.
Check that vertical components are firmly planted in the ground, and that any ropes are in good condition. Look to see what hazards may exist in the immediate area – and just beyond it, especially when kids are playing on swings or slides.
Any litter should be removed immediately – especially if it consists of glass bottles. In fact, a strict “no glass” policy should always be in place. Providing bins and signs can encourage good behaviour when it comes to the proper disposal of litter.
If the play area in your complex has a hard surface like flagstones or tarmac, the risk of injuries will be much greater. In these cases, you can try submitting a request to your Body Corporate / Homeowners Association (Or Managing Agent) to replace such a surface with rubberised matting or bark chips – this will make any falls less serious, and reduce the risk of minor injuries, too.
Any injury risks should be reported to your Body Corporate / Homeowners Association for immediate attention and pointed out to other parents and their kids.
Who’s watching your child?
Accidents can happen in the blink of an eye, so it is vital to always supervise children in play areas. Spending time with your kids at the play area should never be seen as a chore; rather, it is a chance to spend quality time with them. You will be surprised and delighted at how imaginative they can be, and there is nothing quite like the sound of happy laughter to give your mood a boost and relieve stress!
If you cannot be there yourself, arrange with a trusted adult neighbour to do supervision duties instead – then return the favour. While it may be tempting to ask older children to watch their younger siblings, this is never ideal. They could easily get absorbed in their phones and lose focus, and when you have children of different ages in the same area, there is the risk of bullying or of teenagers teaching inappropriate behaviour to younger kids.
As well as being fun for both parents and children, supervision means that you can encourage your kids to explore their capabilities but also ensure that they do not try and get too brave! Kids do not always understand their own limitations – another reason to always have a responsible, alert adult on hand.
Especially in larger estates, you may well not know all your fellow residents – or the people they invite inside, whether for personal or professional reasons. The sad truth is that this means that unsupervised children are at risk from adults with very disturbed intentions. We do not want to make you paranoid, but child sexual abuse and even abductions are sadly a reality.
Sexual offenders will be watching out for unsupervised children – they will see this as their chance. Make sure that they never get that opportunity by actively supervising your kids, and by teaching your children to always say no to strangers, and what to do if they are approached or are made to feel uncomfortable.
By taking these risks into account, and by being more aware of where your children are, what they are doing, and who else is around, your whole family can spend many happy and risk-free hours together at your complex’s play area.
Disclaimer: Kindly note that the above article is merely for information and is not intended to be comprehensive nor to provide legal advice. Solver Property Services, its employees and agents can in no way be held liable for the accuracy or otherwise of the contents of this article, or for the consequences of any action taken or not taken by any person or organisation based on the contents herein.
For more information, please contact 010 822 2882. Solver Property Services has a team of experienced Property Managers / Managing Agents that can assist you. We have close to 200 complexes that we manage across Gauteng (Alberton, Bedfordview, Greenstone, Boksburg, Benoni, Bryanston, Midrand, Sandton, Lonehill, Roodepoot, Pretoria, Kempton Park, Riviera, Edenvale, Fourways Vaal Triangle etc are just a few areas that are covered). Solver Property Services are considered Gauteng’s preferred managing agents.