Archive for Ask An Expert

Two Ways to Approach Playground Maintenance

Whether you are a playground owner by default, or you inherited a play structure as part of your job, or you are a full-time parks and playground professional, this article is for you.

There are two ways to approach playground maintenance: The do-it-yourself method or you can hire LuckyDog Recreation to do the heavy-lifting for you. LuckyDog is an experienced and trusted playground contractor with Certified Playground Safety Inspectors (CPSI). LuckyDog offers an annual or bi-annual program we call LuckyDog’s Signature Inspection Service.

LuckyDog Recreation Inspections

The 4 Top Reasons For Playground Inspections

Whether you do it yourself or hire professional playground inspections here are 4 reasons you want to implement an inspection and maintenance program:

  1. Extends the life of your playground
  2. Keeps children safe
  3. Shows you are exercising due diligence
  4. Shows you have a risk management tool in place

Let’s elaborate on each of the above:

  1. Extends the life of your playground. When playground equipment is installed correctly, it should last well past the warranty dates on any of the components. Many municipalities set a pre-budget date for replacement so playground equipment can be replaced every 15 years. However, I know of many playgrounds living beyond 20 years that are still in great shape because they were installed correctly, and they are being inspected and maintained regularly. Of course, the “brand” of equipment is another factor in the mix; you get what you pay for. So, for the purposes of this article, let’s assume you purchased your equipment from a reputable playground contractor that represents top-tier equipment.
  2. Keeps children safe. Everyone’s a parent, grandparent, uncle or aunt. So it goes without saying we all have a vested interest in keeping children safe. Unlike safety restraints in a car which are regulated by law, do not playgrounds rely on a softer moral code? If it’s for the kids, make it as safe as it can possibly be while still being fun. Based on that presupposition, as a playground owner, you are morally obligated to care enough to do regular inspections on your equipment; whether you do it yourself, have a CPSI on staff, or hire LuckyDog Recreation is up to you and items 3 and 4 might help to settle the issue of WHOM you should hire to do the work.
  3. Shows you are exercising due diligence. This indicated that reasonable steps were taken by the owners of the playground to prevent an incident that could potentially send a child to the emergency room, or worse, a fatality. Should a child be injured on “your” playground, you could be found negligent if you cannot show records of your equipment having been maintained by a qualified inspector. In the playground world, qualified inspector means a CPSI. So not only do you need to do the inspections, or hire them done, record-keeping is also essential.
  4. Shows you have a risk management instrument in place. I know a city of Utah that sends one of their CPSIs to the certified training yearly. Never mind that re-certification is only required every three years. This city is dedicated to the safety of the children and tasks the maintaining of their playgrounds to the most qualified person on staff, a highly trained CPSI. The result? Better maintained playground of course and safer children of course. However, there is another not so obvious benefit for the city “paying” hundreds of dollars each year for this extra training. Should this city ever be in a litigation case, they can show without questionable doubt they have an ironclad risk management tool in place.

Now, are we suggesting you run out and become a CPSI? Or that you get your staff certified? Well, it depends on your budget, how many playgrounds you own, and other factors. However, we are suggesting that by calling LuckyDog Recreation about our Signature Service Inspections you can get service you can count on. And by the way, we do offer inspections on brands other than those we sell.* 

*When you own a LuckyDog playground, we offer a 1 Year Signature Service Inspection for free with every play structure installed; just another way we show we care.

In Pursuit of Play,

Curtis Stoddard, CSPI, Construction Manager

Playground Equipment Utah Call Button

LuckyDogr Recreation Certified Playground Inspectors

10 Reasons To Join National Recreation And Park Association (NRPA)

Over the years as we have worked with schools, school districts, cities, counties and states, we have come to admire what a group can do. Whether the group has been big or small, the goal of providing places to play and recreate has been the driving force that brings the dream into reality.

You may not know the one group that has created the firm foundation we use to build those dreams is the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA).

The Dividends of Being in the NRPA

No matter what recreational industry or educational system you are a part of, the NRPA is dedicated to supporting you and your efforts to provide the absolute best in recreation, playgrounds and parks.

Coming together as a national group, we make the changes that really matter in a world of growing technologies and progress moving faster than we have ever seen before.

“Change is inevitable in a progressive County. Change is constant.” Benjamin Disraeli

LuckyDog Recreation - 10 Reasons NRPA

10 Reasons to Join National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA)

  1. Health & Wellness: This is the first of NRPA’s “Three Pillars.” This group has become the leader in promoting health and wellness through parks and recreation. Their website, convention and monthly magazine are full of cutting-edge ideas you will love to share.
  2. Conservation: The second “Pillar” is their dedication to protecting open space, connecting people to nature, and engaging communities in conservation practices. The NRPA makes it easy to be a part of a movement that really makes an impact.
  3. Social Equity: The third “Pillar” is a goal that we all share, “Ensuring all people have access to the benefits of local parks and recreation.”
  4. Grants and Funding: The NRPA gives you up-to-date information on available grant and funding opportunities.
  5. Reports: Get facts and statistics from NRPA’s long list of reports you can use to present park and recreation funding requests from your local government and school boards.
  6. Continuing Education: NRPA’s online-learning is a cost-effective way to train and educate your team. Also, it is the best way to earn Continuing Education Units (CEUs).
  7. Playground Safety: From becoming Certified Playground Safety Inspectors to learning what is new in safe playground equipment, LuckyDog appreciates all the ways the NRPA has been our partner. You will appreciate it too.
  8. Non-Profit Organization: Because the NRPA is a non-profit organization, your membership dues, conference dues and charitable contributions fund this dynamic organization. Once you check out their website, you will see that they are a class act, worth every penny of your membership.
  9. Monthly Magazine: Whahoo! the NRPA’s Parks & Recreation magazine is now available online for everyone. The magazine is full of great park and play articles. Plus the new Playcraft Ebb and Flow Net Climbers are featured on the back cover of this issue. Check it out…Park & Recreation Online Magazine.
  10. Yearly Convention – The annual NPRA Conference educates the public, professionals and government leaders as to what is new for all “Three Pillars.”

The NRPA convention is the highlight of our year. Although we learn tons during the education sessions, our favorite part is networking and participating in the BIG tradeshow.

A Sneak Peek at the 2018 NRPA Tradeshow

As we walk out the door to attend this year’s convention in Indianapolis, we want to give you a sneak peek of what Playcraft Systems and Berliner will be presenting at the show.

Playcraft Systems’ Ebb and Flow Net Climbers

LuckyDog Recreation and Playcraft Systems Eb and Flow

New Berliner Play Equipment Catalogs

Berliner Play Equipment Catalogs from LuckyDog Recreation

We are excited to meet with those of you who are attending this year’s NRPA convention.

And if you can not attend, watch for a new video tour with Rhetta. Be sure to give us a call for more information on the Playcraft Ebb and Flow Net Climbers and your brand new Berliner catalog.

In Pursuit of Play,

Nicole and Rhetta

Playground Equipment Utah Call Button

Fall Is The Perfect Time To Get Out And Play

Ask most adults the major barrier to being more physically active, and they will tell you: Time.

We complain about how busy we are and how little time we have to step away from responsibilities and enjoy ourselves. Unfortunately, our love affair with over-scheduling ourselves has been passed on to our children.

Pressures to do better academically, be involved in leadership/service activities, and to “fit in” have been compounded by parents who over-schedule their children at an entirely too early age.

Author Richard Louv discusses this in his book, Last Child in the Woods, stating that children are experiencing a “Nature Deficit Disorder.” When was the last time your children sat on the ground and stared at a bug?

LuckyDog Recreation - Playground Time

Getting kids outdoors, playing with other kids, is a key part of optimal childhood development. Kids need the chance to climb, swing, navigate through obstacles, and yes, even fall down once in a while. Without these opportunities to build muscle, gain confidence, and learn interaction skills with other children, kids are held back from their potential.

The Solution

Take your kids to the park.

Let them explore a playground that helps them build confidence and strength as they learn to navigate through a course that doesn’t hold their hands through the problem solving of how to get from point A to point B, or even tell them where point B is.

Get Out and Play - LuckyDog Recreation

Solution vs. Barrier

Going to the park is a simple solution, but it does run headlong onto the leading barrier: Time.

  • Build time into your schedule to get outside yourself, and take your kids with you.
  • Treat it like an appointment with your boss; you wouldn’t skip that appointment because you are too busy.
  • Get outside, enjoy the challenge, and give your kids the chance to grow and learn through experiential play.
  • It’s worth the time.

Get out and play,

Dr. Brett McIff

Dr. Brett McIff - LuckyDog RecreationDr. McIff has worked in physical activity promotion for over 20 years in a variety of fields from personal training to policy development.  He received his undergraduate degree at the University of Utah in Exercise and Sports Science. He continued his graduate work with a Master of Science in Public Health and a Ph.D. in Public Health at Walden University.  Brett has served as President of the National Physical Activity Society and as President of the Utah Chapter of the Society of Public Health Educators and served on expert panels with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Academy of Science.  He works with committees at the national, state, and local levels to promote environments that encourage regular physical activity.

Playground Slides are for Fun, not for Cooking

Summer is here and the kids are excited to spend their time on the playground, but are the playgrounds ready for them?

The weather in the intermountain west can be so hot that you could fry an egg on the sidewalk. Just imagine how hot playground slides and other dark or metal objects can be on tender skin.

Summer Playground Slide for Fun - LuckyDog RecreationDo a Playground Walkthrough

As we move into the hot summer months, consider a walkthrough of your playgrounds and look for those things that you can adjust to account for the heat.

An excellent tool for checking the temperature is a handheld point-and-shoot infrared thermometer. They are often used in cooking, such as on the grill, but can be used to check your equipment before a child gets burned.

Look especially at dark metal or plastic, flat surfaces such as slides and playground decks, and particularly south and west facing structures. Even a brief touch, especially with a child’s delayed reflexes, can result in up to second-degree burns. Be sure to measure temperatures mid-day to evening, as summer afternoons are scorchers!

Summer Safety Tips for Hot Playground Slides and Playground Equipment

You can do a lot to mitigate the problems from excess temperatures:

  • Provide shade: Shade your playground structures with shade sails, trees, or by locating the playground where shade from buildings is available.
  • Safe placement for slides: When possible, install slides facing east or north.
  • Put up a sign: Consider marking your structures with warnings that temperatures can be high and could result in burns.
  • No wet swimsuits: Remember that water conducts heat, so wet swimsuits shouldn’t be on hot slides.
  • Drinking water: Heat exhaustion and dehydration can occur quickly in children. Provide plenty of drinking water.
  • Use water sources: Providing clean, not hot, water nearby is a great way to make sure children are safe and happy as they enjoy the playgrounds during the summer heat.

Have fun and play safe,

Dr. McIff

Dr. Brett McIff - LuckyDog RecreationDr. Brett McIff has worked in physical activity promotion for over 20 years in a variety of fields from personal training to policy development.  He received his undergraduate degree at the University of Utah in Exercise and Sports Science. He continued his graduate work with a Master of Science in Public Health and a Ph.D. in Public Health at Walden University.

Brett has served as President of the National Physical Activity Society and as President of the Utah Chapter of the Society of Public Health Educators and served on expert panels with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Academy of Science.  He works with committees at the national, state, and local levels to promote environments that encourage regular physical activity.

Why Recess Matters – Kids In Pursuit of Play

Kids are built to move! Growing bodies are pushing their boundaries as they learn both how to move and how to build lifetime habits of being active.

Unfortunately, many kids are deprived of the opportunity for recess and physical education as schools focus on standardized testing emphasizing academic subjects. The most frustrating part of this is that kids who move more do better on those tests!1,2

Kids in Pursuit of Play with LuckyDog Recreation

Kids In Pursuit of Play

Regular physical activity is key to the growth and overall success of children as they grow into maturity. Current recommendations for children under 18 years of age:

  • Kids need at least 60 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity and including at least three days of vigorous physical activity.
  • Include muscle strengthening activities such as climbing trees, using playground equipment, etc. on at least three days of the week.
  • Also, bone strengthening activities like running or jumping rope should be done at least three days of the week as well.3

That’s a lot of activity for a child who is essentially confined to a desk for most of the day.

It comes as no surprise that teachers commonly complain about behavioral disturbances when research clearly shows that even one period of recess time of at least 15 minutes has significant positive improvement on classroom behavior.4

Recess Matters Because Children Matter

If we really care about children and their ability to succeed in today’s world, we need to prepare them for success by building strong habits early on.

If we really want to see school test scores improve, we need to provide opportunities for growing minds to succeed with built-in physical activity.

Kids are meant to move; let’s show how much we care by giving them that chance.

Dr. Brett McIff

Dr. Brett McIff - LuckyDog RecreationDr. McIff has worked in physical activity promotion for over 20 years in a variety of fields from personal training to policy development.  He received his undergraduate degree at the University of Utah in Exercise and Sports Science. He continued his graduate work with a Master of Science in Public Health and a Ph.D. in Public Health at Walden University.  Brett has served as President of the National Physical Activity Society and as President of the Utah Chapter of the Society of Public Health Educators and served on expert panels with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Academy of Science.  He works with committees at the national, state, and local levels to promote environments that encourage regular physical activity.

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The association between school-based physical activity, including physical education, and academic performance. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2010.
  2. Physical activity and sedentary time in relation to academic achievement in children. Haapala, Eero A. et al. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, Volume 20, Issue 6, 583 – 589.
  3. US Department of Health and Human Services. 2008 physical activity guidelines for Americans. 2008. http://www.health.gov/PAGuidelines.
  4. 4. School recess and group classroom behavior. Barros RM, Silver EJ, Stein RE. Pediatrics. 2009 Feb; 123(2):431-6. doi:10.1542/peds.2007-2825.

LuckyDog Recreation at URPA 2018 Tradeshow in Provo, Utah

Thank you! We enjoyed meeting everyone that stopped by our booth at the URPA 2018 tradeshow in Provo, Utah.

As you know, every year we like to do a drawing for a big prize. This year the drawing was for a Freenotes Harmony Park™ outdoor musical instrument. Karen Yocum of Park City Recreation was the winner!

“Thanks for the great addition to our play! We are going to place it at our bus stop next to another sound toy for our community enjoyment.” Karen Yocum, Park City Recreation

Congratulations Karen. We are excited for your community.

A BIG thank you to our education breakout session presenters – Kate Morrison of Freenotes Harmony Park and Dr. Brett McIff, Physical Activity Coordinator at the Utah Department of Health.

In Pursuit of Play,
Nicole Stoddard and the LuckyDog Recreation Team

LuckyDog Recreation team at URPA 2018

Don’t Get SAD, Get Moving!

Winter can be challenging for anyone trying to be active. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves through New Year’s Resolutions even though the weather could make it the hardest time of year to start being active. Add to that a shorter amount of daylight hours, cloudy days (and poor air quality in some areas), and having to be indoors due to the cold and you have created the perfect conditions for being SAD.

SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, is often called the Winter Blues, a type of depression that occurs based on changes in the seasons.

Beat the Winter Blues

There are many ways to beat the winter blues, but one of the best approaches is to get more exposure to sunlight. You can do this with special lights that mimic the full spectrum lighting similar to what you would get from the sun, or just get outside when possible. Regular physical activity has been shown to decrease depressive symptoms, especially in children and older adults.

Current physical activity recommendations for adults are to accumulate 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per week. Here are some tips to beat the blahs this winter:

    • Soak up the sunshine in the early morning to feel better throughout the day. If you can do that outside, great. If not, find an indoor location where you can enjoy a sunbeam for a bit
    • Be active every day. If you are in decent shape, don’t be afraid to go for higher intensity activity for the greatest reward. Physical activity is best when it is a habit, and habits come from regular participation
    • Explore your community. Getting in a rut makes your day frustrating even when you aren’t feeling down. Find your nearest park and see what is happening while everyone else is huddling under blankets at home
  • Can’t find sunshine? Book a trip to a place where you can find plenty!

Be active, be healthy,

Dr. Brett McIff

Dr. Brett McIff - LuckyDog RecreationDr. Brett McIff has worked in physical activity promotion for over 20 years in a variety of fields from personal training to policy development.  He received his undergraduate degree at the University of Utah in Exercise and Sports Science. He continued his graduate work with a Master of Science in Public Health and a Ph.D. in Public Health at Walden University.  Brett has served as President of the National Physical Activity Society and as President of the Utah Chapter of the Society of Public Health Educators and served on expert panels with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Academy of Science.  He works with committees at the national, state, and local levels to promote environments that encourage regular physical activity. 

Resources:

SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder
https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/seasonal-affective-disorder/index.shtml

How To Be Active When The Air Hurts

New Year’s Resolution to be healthier? 
New running shoes?
Air polluted so badly that you end up coughing and feeling lousy all day? 

The winter air in many places is less than ideal due to an increase in pollutants from increased driving and heating of homes.

If you live in a place that has inversions, a condition where a dense layer of cold air is trapped beneath warm air like a lid, that air pollution can concentrate and make breathing difficult.  Those fine particles that make up the majority of air pollution can get past the usual defensive mechanisms in the body, irritating the full length of the respiratory tract. If you have breathing difficulties from conditions such as asthma or from smoking, you can really get hit hard.

Here are some things to make your exercise easier on your lungs during bad air days:

  • Be active when cars aren’t.
  • Avoid walking or running during rush hour times when pollution is highest.
  • You aren’t a car, so find a trail or other path in a park that is away from cars in order to lower your exposure.  Car exhaust is extremely irritating, stay away from places where it concentrates such as intersections.
  • If you can, be active indoors.
  • Check the air quality index each day and if it is a poor air day, stay inside.
  • However, indoor air can also be full of irritants as well, so avoid exercise after vacuuming or dusting to minimize impact.

Be active, be healthy,

Dr. Brett McIff

Dr. Brett McIff - LuckyDog RecreationDr. Brett McIff has worked in physical activity promotion for over 20 years in a variety of fields from personal training to policy development.  He received his undergraduate degree at the University of Utah in Exercise and Sports Science. He continued his graduate work with a Master of Science in Public Health and a Ph.D. in Public Health at Walden University.  Brett has served as President of the National Physical Activity Society and as President of the Utah Chapter of the Society of Public Health Educators and served on expert panels with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Academy of Science.  He works with committees at the national, state, and local levels to promote environments that encourage regular physical activity. 

Resources:

What is an inversion?
http://www.ci.slc.ut.us/winter-inversions-what-are-they-and-what-we-can-all-do-help

What causes poor air quality?
http://www.slcdocs.com/mayor/Air.Quality.Infographic.pdf

Exercise and air quality
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4666455/

Utah air pollution and public health
http://health.utah.gov/utahair/

Calling all Landscape Architects and Park Planners

Rope-based Play from Dynamo - LuckyDog RecreationFor all Landscape Architects and Park Planners…

Schedule a 2016 “Lunch and Learn” at Your Facility

Select from 3 timely topics:

  • Playground Drainage
  • Rope-based Playgrounds
  • Unitary Surfacing Primer

Download:  Playground Drainage and Rope-based Playgrounds Infomation

Download:  2016 Unitary Surfacing and Rope-based Plagrounds

 

Spark Imaginations With Musical Playground Equipment

For over 20 years Freenotes Harmony Park™ Outdoor Musical Instruments has been sparking imaginations. Their innovative playground equipment is sure to bring a song to your neighborhood.

To say we are thrilled to add Freenotes to our repertoire of Idaho and Utah playground equipment is putting it mildly.

Take a look at this video and you can see why!

Fun for kids of all ages, anyone can play and no one makes a mistake.

Just imagine all of the places you would like to see Freenotes!

  • City Parks – Wouldn’t you love to create music with your family and friends?
  • School Playgrounds – Kids would go wild with music at their finger tips.
  • Hospitals – The soothing harmonies of healing are magic.
  • Museums – Everyone can experience making music.
  • Day Cares – Imagination with no limits.

What Music Does For You and Yours

We all know the pleasure we get from music. But did you know these facts?

Cognitive Function

Music helps to build reasoning skills and cognitive development. It can increase the capacity of your memory, refine time management and organizational skills, and teach perseverance.

Emotional

Playing music is fun! It builds confidence, encourages creativity and self-expression. It can reduce anxiety, relieve symptoms of depression, and elevate your mood. It just makes people healthier and happier!

Physical

Playing and listening to music can reduce stress, ease pain, lower your blood pressure, increase workout endurance, improve sleep, enhance blood vessel function and help you eat less!

Community

As we co-create music we grasp a sense of joy, our focus and social engagement align without effort. Playing music with others fosters deep listening, respect, a sense of belonging and builds community.

Prepared by: FreenotesHarmonyPark.com  – The Leader in Outdoor Musical Instruments

I would love to show Freenotes and design your perfect Harmony Park. Call me!

Nicole Stoddard – Idaho and Utah Playground Equipment

Playground Equipment Utah Call Button

P.S. Congratulations to Leo Alvarez, Lauren Fraley and Chelsi Rome from Perkins+Will Design Firm for winning Freenotes 2016 Musical Park Design Challenge.

Musical Playground

Design-Challenge-Winner-2016-Announcement

(Design Photo from  – freenotesharmonypark.com)

 

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