Summer Safety - Pools, Playgrounds, and Grilling- Philadelphia Insurance Companies

Summer Safety - Pools, Playgrounds, and Grilling


The summer season can be a time to make memories with friends, family, and others enjoying the warmer weather. For many organizations, from day care operators to apartment management, this means playgrounds are bustling, pools are bubbling, and grills are fired up. Unfortunately, these exposures are all too often lacking when it comes to good risk management practices; and they are often the source of severe injuries, resulting in claims that can cripple an organization. That's why organizations that provide these summer experiences should make sure they remain a source of summertime fun and not summertime sadness.

Making Playgrounds Safe for Play

Playgrounds can be found at schools, churches, day cares, and even apartment complexes. They provide a space for children to interact with other kids and to exercise their bodies and their imaginations. But according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), more than 200,000 children are injured and 20,000 of them suffer traumatic brain injuries because of accidents on playgrounds. In addition to being mindful of how the summer heat can create a burning hazard, the following are important items for organizations to review to keep playtime playful.

  • Falls are the leading cause of injuries on playgrounds; therefore, surfacing under and around the equipment is extremely important. Approved loose-fill surfacing material (i.e. mulch, shredded rubber, or sand), should be an appropriate depth depending on the height of the equipment.
  • Loose-fill surfacing material can become displaced and compacted over time. A good maintenance program should include monitoring the surfacing material and raking or replacing the material to maintain the proper depth. Playgrounds should be free of exposed concrete footings, rocks, or tree stumps.
  • Make sure play structures more than 30 inches high are spaced at least 9ft apart and their platforms have guardrails or barriers.
  • Check for dangerous hardware, like open "S" hooks on swings or protruding bolt ends. Bolts should not protrude more than two threads past the nut.
  • Make sure space that could trap children, such as openings in guardrails or between ladder rungs, measure less than 3.5 inches or more than 9 inches.
  • Check for sharp points or edges in equipment.
  • Make sure the play area is free of trip hazards.
  • Playgrounds should have signs indicating the age appropriateness of the equipment, that children should be supervised, and other information required by regulations.
  • Fencing should be provided around the playground with a self-closing gate, especially if it is located near a busy road or parking lot.
  • An audit by a Certified Playground Safety Inspector is a great way to evaluate the playground and get information on the best way to make it the safest it can be.

Review PHLY's Playground Safety document for more detailed information on providing a safe playground.

Swimming Pool Safety

From YMCAs to apartment communities, pools are a source of incredible fun, but can also be scenes of terrible tragedy. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury death among children aged 1-4 years and the second leading cause of unintentional injury death among children 5-9 years. For organizations that operate pools, especially those who may not be as familiar with aquatics such as apartment management, take the time to ensure their pools are as safe as possible. The following are important items for organizations to review to ensure splash time is fun time.

  • A four-foot high, child-proof fence with a self-closing and self-locking gate is recommended as a minimum. The area should be kept locked during non-use hours.
  • Walking surfaces in the swim area should be slip-resistant, level, and free of trip hazards.
  • The floor of the pool should be of a light color to easily identify objects in the pool.
  • The depth of the water in feet and meters should be plainly marked above the water level on the vertical pool wall and the coping or deck next to the pool.
  • Rescue equipment should be readily available (i.e. buoy with line and shepherd's hook). Pools with diving boards or slides should have a spine board equipped with restraining straps.
  • Ground fault circuit interrupters should be provided on all electrical equipment operating at more than 15 volts installed below water level or within 20' of pools.
  • Pool use rules should be posted where clearly visible and enforced.


Grilling Safely

Almost nothing else says "summertime" more than hamburgers, hot dogs, and BBQ sizzling on an open grill. While grilling can be a great source for some great food, it can also be the source of injuries and fires. According to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), July is the peak month for grill fires, followed by June, May, and August. The large number of fires were due to gas grills, including 3,900 structure fires and 4,900 outdoor fires annually. In additional to structural damage, almost 20,000 patients per year went to emergency rooms due to injuries involving grills between 2014 and 2018. Organizations that provide grilling or allow it on their premises, like residential complexes, should ensure grilling stays safe. The following are options that provide grilling in a fun but safe way:

Tenant-Owned Grills Allowed - All propane gas grills, natural gas grills, charcoal grills, hibachis, smokers, or any appliance which uses an open flame to cook should be kept at least 10 ft. vertically and horizontally from all buildings and other combustible materials (pine straw, pine bark, and other combustible landscaping materials) when in use. They should never be used on balconies, and propane and other types of fuel tanks should never be stored on balconies. These rules should be clearly explained in the lease agreement.

Community-Provided Grilling Stations - A "community" stationary grilling station could be provided as a replacement for all personal grills. The grills should be at least 15 ft. from all buildings and must be properly maintained and cleaned. Signage should be provided with rules and instructions on using the equipment and fire extinguishers should be available near the grilling area.

Additional considerations and safety tips are provided in PHLY's Outdoor Grilling Safeguards document.

Practicing these safety measures can ensure everyone has a safe and healthy summer, whether it's playing on the playground, splashing in the pool, or cooking up some fun on the grill.


Additional Resources:

Playground Safety - National Safety Council (nsc.org)

Public Playground Safety Checklist | CPSC.gov

National Program for Playground Safety (NPPS)

Healthy Swimming/Recreational Water | Healthy Swimming | Healthy Water | CDC

Splash into summer with 6 essential pool safety tips | Pool Safely

Apartment Complex Pool Safety Tips - Property Manager Insider

NFPA 1: Proper Use and Location of Grills and Other Cooking Equipment, #FireCodefridays | NFPA

NFPA - Grilling safety

Managing Your Grill Area: A Checklist | National Apartment Association (naahq.org)

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