The new year is underway and students have returned to the halls and classrooms of your school. The parents who send them off every morning do so with the expectation that you're going to be keeping them safe throughout the day, from the parking lot to the playground. Maintaining a safe school facility is an active process, and administrators and facilities teams should be on the lookout for a few areas that are of particular concern for parents and students this year.
The favorite on-campus place of many students is also the one that carries some of the highest potential for injury. Playgrounds provide recreation and exercise for kids, but there are also important safety concerns administrators should be aware of. According to the National Safety Commission, many injuries can occur on a school playground, and up to 80 percent of these are due to falls. Hard surfaces such as concrete, or even grass or dirt, can cause significant injury if a student takes a tumble. Instead of using these materials, a report from the NSC recommended considering softer surfaces such as rubber, composite or pea gravel. Even wood chips or mulch can provide sufficient cushioning for active kids. Just make sure you follow the source's advice and provide surface coverage that's 12 inches deep and encircles each piece of equipment by 6 feet.
Of course, it's also crucial that equipment is properly maintained and structurally sound. Inspections of playground fixtures should be a regular part of your maintenance activities, and any corrective maintenance required should be carried out immediately to prevent injury.
Unfortunately, threats of violence in and around schools have become more prevalent in recent years. According to a 2013 survey from Gallup, approximately 33 percent of parents indicated they worried for the safety of their oldest child while he or she was attending school. Like it or not, schools must now adapt to incorporate a strategy for protecting against and responding to such violent incidents.
Knowing what to look for is a helpful prevention method. The Department of Homeland Security noted that the majority of violent offenders in schools are between the ages of 15 and 19. Preserving the safety of students and faculty is of utmost importance in these instances, and helping the proper emergency departments work efficiently goes toward that goal. The DHS recommended working closely with response services to ensure they are familiar with the layout of your campus so they are prepared to act as quickly as possible if needed.