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.
“Hands down one of the best products you can use to allow ‘kids to be kids.’”
-Olivia Wyrick, Director of Aquaventure Operations
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?
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:
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?
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).
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.
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.
In aquatics, we talk a lot about slip-resistance, slip-resisting surfaces, and reducing slip-and-fall injuries. Wet areas can be slippery: it’s why we have bath mats, and slippery-when-wet signs, and Bon Jovi albums.
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:
Society has an interesting history with the concept of public fountains. Depending on current technology and culture, fountains have been designed as drinking water dispensers for urban populations, markers of courtly love locked in cloisters, elaborate Persian floating gardens, and elaborate works of lasting art and architectural prowess.
One of the great joys of living in Minnesota (Life Floor headquarters are located in Minneapolis, MN, which at the time of writing this, is a balmy -4F) is the emphasis on parks, green spaces and natural landscapes. We’re a land of 10,000 lakes, and just about every single one of our lakes has a park attached, usually with a playground, a well-maintained trail, and (our favorite) splash pads. As people who have grown up with beautiful parks, and who are raising our children to enjoy these parks, we cannot be more thankful that we live in a part of the country that treasures park and recreation programs.
Last week we discussed the Research and Development that went into the Cedarcrest Park splash pad this past summer. Life Floor makes splash pads safer, with non-abrasive slip resistance and impact cushioning, but when it comes to splash pad design, we've also found that something doesn’t have to spray water in order to be a feature.
For years, Ripple has been our most slip-resisting texture and our best-selling product. All over the world, people trust Life Floor’s Ripple to perform where everything else has failed, and Ripple delivers.
There are likely somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 splash pads in the U.S., a number that is growing by an estimated 5-10 percent per year. A few seasons ago, we wrote a blog about how to design a splash pad and the best ways to make sure your splash pad, splash deck, spray ground, aquatic play pad, rain deck, spray deck, spray pad, spray pool, and spray zone stands out above the crowd.
The safety revolution that transformed dry playgrounds is long overdue for splash pads. We believe that creating similar standards for splash pads will reduce injuries and provide a significant benefit to public health, thereby creating a safer future for aquatic recreation, for our families, and for our communities.
From the beginning, splash pads have often been built adjacent to, or even on top of, public pools and wading pools, and so they have traditionally maintained the hard concrete “floors” of these pools. However, the practice of treating splash pads as a literal extension of the pool category is both inaccurate and dangerous. Even if splash pads began in the pool and fountain space, they have developed beyond those categories and now require a different set of safety regulations.
Playgrounds and splash pads are used in remarkably similar ways: children climb, run, and jump as they interact with play features. The major difference between splash pads and dry playgrounds is the presence of water. In other words, splash pads are simply playgrounds + water. As a result, they share some similar safety concerns.
Over the last 25 years, splash pads have appeared everywhere. From commercial water parks to public parks, these recreation areas have lowered water bills, prevented drownings, and provided exciting places for children to cool off in the summer heat.
Ultimately, splash pad safety standards should be determined not by superficial similarities to pools, but by considering how people actually use splash pads. Basically, kids treat splash pads as playgrounds. They walk, run, and jump on splash pads, they play tag on splash pads. The primary mode of movement around a splash pad is definitely not swimming, and the primary risk is a slip-and-fall injury, not drowning.