NSF/ANSI 50 Passes Surfacing Standard for Interactive Waterplay Areas

This summer, after years of research, testing and careful evaluation, the Standard for Safety Surfacing in Interactive Water Play Areas has been added to NSF-50. And Life Floor is proud to be the first aquatic safety surface in the world certified to this standard. 

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Looking Back Through History: Playground Safety Surfacing 

On October 17th, 1903 the first permanent municipal-built playground, Seward Park, was opened to a crowd of 20,000 children [x]). The adoption of these public play spaces was rapid. By 1907 there were 90 municipalities with playgrounds. In just three years that number grew to 531.[x

With this rapid growth of playgrounds, so too did the injury reports, emergency room visits, and critical head injuries. Parents and experts across the country recognized the growing injury trend, and worked to eliminate the largest and most prevalent hazards. 

In 1981, the Consumer Product Safety Commission published the Handbook for Public Playground Safety and parks were retrofitted to eliminate hard surfaces and high falls.

Splash Pads = Playgrounds + Water

Splash pads, like playgrounds, also have had a monumental and rapid adoption across the world. Splash pads were developed in response to providing kids with a play area to cool off without the drowning risk of pools or the sanitation problems associated with public fountains. In the rush to meet the demand, the role of finding safety solutions has been left to each individual operator, with mixed and inconsistent results. Every year, splash pads all over North America have closed to replace or retrofit their surfacing due to complaints, injuries and maintenance.  

Operators have especially struggled with surfacing options due to the playful and interactive nature of splash pads. Kids interact with each other by jumping and running from spray feature to spray feature without the protection of clothing or shoes. The combination of bare feet and concrete has left users with burned feet, bumps, bruises, broken bones and head injuries.  

To try to solve these issues, operators have been using playground safety surfaces like poured-in-place rubber. These surfaces, while great for dry applications, are simply not developed to interact with treated water. When the adhesive inevitably breaks down, particles clog filtration systems, patchy floors create tripping hazards and microbes grow inside trapped water.

For a lack of a functional surfacing system, many cities have resorted to hiring splash pad attendants to remind kids not to run. 

Unfortunately, these individual stop-gaps have not solved the world-wide problem facing splash pad operators. According to the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System database, in 2014 alone, there were an estimated 20,000 injuries on pool decks, splash pads and water parks resulting in an emergency room visit.  

The safety revolution that transformed dry playgrounds is long overdue for splash pads. With the new NSF/ANSI 50 standard in place, operators will be able to reduce injuries and keep splash pads open, providing fun for their communities all summer long. 

After nearly a decade of designing, testing, and building aquatic surfaces, we have been proud to contribute to the process of creating these new safety requirements. The surface is an indispensable part of the play value, and overall experience of the splash pad. And that’s why we’re committed to designing the safest, most beautiful splash pad surfaces using only products engineered exclusively for aquatic play. We believe the best surface allows kids to play just as they should. Together, we’re creating a safer future for aquatic recreation, for our families, and for our communities.

Our tiles meet six unique performance based standards to meet certification: slip-resistance, impact attenuation, chemical resistance, UV resistance, cleanability, and impermeability. To learn more about our tile’s performance results, visit our NSF/ANSI 50 page.

Putting Humane Design Into Perspective

Humane design doesn’t always have to be a massive change. Sometimes it can be a simple adjustment like adding water-use wheelchairs or extending facility hours for kids with sensory needs. Ultimately, we believe the best way forward is to open up communication, listen to the diverse user experience, and practice regular review of safety standards. 

Designing Tropical Getaways in the North: Bamboo Bay

The build-out for Bamboo Bay, the multi-level spray structure expansion, was completed a few months after in early 2019. The city again chose Life Floor to cover the entire surrounding deck of the structure and the nearby locker rooms. In a recent interview, Buck expressed that she couldn’t be more thrilled with Life Floor as a solution to safer walkways and more comfortable standing areas for kids and her staff.

Designing A Memorable Family Vacation: Lake George RV Park

Up in the Adirondack Mountains, Lake George RV Park creates a vacation experience for the entire family, with 120-acres for campers to enjoy. Last summer, the park expanded their offerings with Cascade Cove: an outdoor pool complex designed by Aquatic Design & Engineering. Cascade Cove features a resort pool, spa pool, and a unique lily pad splash park and play structure.

10 Things You Won’t BELIEVE You Can Do With Life Floor

2019 is all about the Product Hack: How can you use everyday items in astonishing and unexpected ways. If you’re anything like us then you probably have RACKS on RACKS of impervious, slip-resistant, impact cushioned pool tile just covering every inch of your office. We’re here to help with some Hot Tips for your cool floor:

Play Value Part 3: Where Does Design Fit In?

Safety surfacing, by nature, allows kids to play on splash pads the way they want to play. But there’s more to the conversation than just facilitating play. How can safety surfacing elevate experiences by encouraging and inviting new kinds of play opportunities? How can safety surfaces by design create a more dynamic play space?

Play Value Part 2: A Canary Test

We’re back to our discussion about spray parks and play value! We’re going to start where we left off and dive deeper into the issue of spray park design, specifically surface design.

In Lisa J Lewis’s 2005 paper “Role of Splash Parks in Outdoor Public Recreation,” Lewis ends  with her overall recommendations about how splash pads in general should be designed. She anchors this conclusion with the following:

Spray Parks and Play Value Part 1

There are many practical reasons to love spray parks. They’re less expensive to build and maintain than pools, they’re often free to the community, and they serve as a place to connect with neighbors and new families. Of course the main users of splash pads, kids, love them for a very obvious reason: they’re fun!

But how do you measure how fun a splash pad is?

Inside Edge now the Preferred Installation Provider of Life Floor in North America

Life Floor is pleased to announce a new partnership with North America’s leading commercial flooring installation experts, Inside Edge. The two companies have partnered together to provide an all-inclusive installation service for Life Floor customers with premier warranty coverage. As part of the new partnership, Inside Edge will develop their Safety Surfaces Division as the Preferred Installation Provider for Life Floor in North America.

A Blistering Safety Issue

Sizzle. The sound you’d like to avoid when wet feet touch hot concrete. If you’ve ever been to an outdoor aquatic facility in the summer, this problem is likely a sore subject. One of the most common complaints brought to us by operators is the issue of hot surfaces throughout outdoor facilities, specifically on pool decks, stair towers, and walkways. It comes as little surprise then to learn that concrete can reach temperatures hovering around 120°F, while rubberized surfaces can easily reach temperatures above 140°F. In one recent study, a rubberized surface was reported to be 170°F (X).

Leaders in Aquatic Design: Water Technology, Inc.

For our third and final installment of the 2018 Leaders in Aquatic Design series, we had the special pleasure of speaking with two leaders in the field, Douglass Whiteaker, Principal, and President of Water Technology, Inc (WTI) and Jen Gerber, Senior Business Development Coordinator.

Leaders in Aquatic Design: Cloward H20

In the second installment of this year’s series, we had the pleasure of connecting with Allen Clawson, Managing Partner & Principal of Cloward H2O. Clawson has twenty five years of global engineering, project management, design and planning of aquatic systems and facilities experience. (x)

Leaders in Aquatic Design: Aquatic Design & Engineering

Last year, as part of our architect and designer series, we sat down with three major firms in the aquatic design industry. Josh Martin, the President and Creative Director of Aquatic Design & Engineering (ADE), was kind enough to share his perspective in the first installment of this year’s series.

National Parks and Rec Month: Project Spotlight

Happy National Parks and Recreation Month!
Municipal spaces, near and dear to our hearts, are something we love to explore and talk about. In previous blogs, we’ve discussed The 10 Minute Walk To a Park Initiative [x] and our work to standardize splash pad safety [x]. We’ve especially taken joy in sharing the public splash pads we’ve designed through the years: Bloomington, MN [x], Westfield, NY [x] Clarksville, TN [x].

This July we’re celebrating three municipal projects that embody the importance of Parks and Recreation.

The Sand Paper: Shortage, Supply, & Safety

At Life Floor, we've seen a lot of sand in and around water parks, other aquatic installations, and in other human-made environments. That may not be a good thing. To paraphrase a philosopher, "We don't like sand. It's coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere." (seen here) Digging into the problem a little deeper, we realized that trucking sand into these places from mines, beaches, and riverbeds isn't just annoying, it's potentially dangerous. Here are a few reasons we think the aquatic recreation industry, and any industry, should rethink sand usage:

Aquatic Concussions: Anecdotal Problem Or Widespread Issue?

The Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) uses March as part of their awareness campaign to educate and expand the conversation around traumatic brain injuries, including helping the general public understand both the incidence rate of brain injuries, as well as how to support the brain community and their families.