The downside of wooden playground equipment is that, over time, wood will degrade, causing splinters and cracks. Kids like to walk around barefoot, especially at the playground where they climb and play on wooden structures. A wood splinter can be painful and needs to be removed, especially as it is organic material and can cause inflammation and infection. If a splinter is deep and is bleeding, a trip to your child’s pediatrician might be in order. A tetanus booster might be necessary if it has been more than five years since your child’s last shot. You can prevent your kids from getting splinters at the playground, at least on their feet, by having them wear socks and shoes –not sandals– as kids are more likely to keep their shoes on if they lace-up or have Velcro tabs.
You can minimize the occurrence of splintering on wooden play equipment by regularly inspecting the surfaces for signs of deterioration. Equipment constructed from cedar or redwood will stand up better to weathering and damage caused by extreme temperature changes than sets constructed of pine or other softwoods. While a set made of pressure-treated lumber is long-lasting, the wood contains arsenic — chromated copper arsenate— a dangerous chemical and known carcinogen.
It is important to sand surfaces smooth before applying any penetrating sealant or paint. Wearing a face mask, lightly sand rough spots with medium-grit sandpaper until the loose fibers and splinters are removed. Apply a coat of outdoor penetrating wood sealant, like the kind used on wood decks, to protect the wood and prevent future splintering. The sealant may need to be reapplied frequently depending on weather conditions and the type of wood.
Trassig has a product called Splinter Guard which will help maintain wooden playgrounds and playground safety. This is a simple-to-apply, UV resistant, eco-friendly, water-based, acrylic urethane coating. Splinter Guard contains non-abrasive rubber granules for aggregate which bonds to all types of wood and forms a skid-resistant layer on surfaces. Splinter Guard helps to get rid of splintering and also minimizes slip and fall injuries. It can also be applied to slide steps, splash pads, and walkways to prevent injuries.
Call Trassig at 203-659-0456 if you have any questions about how to keep your wooden play equipment safe and splinter-free!