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.
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.
It’s hard to overstate just how much winning this award means to us. You can see by the grins on the faces of the people who accepted the plaque on stage that we were thrilled to be recognized by the board for the work we have done over the past five years helping to keep guests at waterparks safer while they play.
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.
Here at Life Floor, we think a lot about splash pads. We design and manufacture splash pad surfacing; we play on splash pads, too, and sometimes, we even invite our kids. As our involvement in aquatics has grown, we began to notice something unusual: no one seems entirely sure what to call these things. There’s actually a pretty wide variety of names, including: splash pad, splash deck, spray ground, aquatic play pad, rain deck, spray deck, spray pad, spray pool, and spray zone.