Why Should You Consider an Aquatic Play Area
The choices of recreational facilities a municipality can select to make part of their recreational plans are almost as numerous as the number of municipalities. Also, there are a number of old-fashioned favorites that seem to be part of every city. Playgrounds, basketball courts and soccer fields all seem to thrive.
In the last few years, however, there has arrived a welcome addition - and feasible substitute for one former mainstay of the municipal recreation department: the swimming pool.
With the cost of maintenance, staffing and building the swimming pool all taking a significant bite out of budgets throughout the country, many municipalities are looking to aquatic play areas as a viable and intelligent option to fill the need for water-based entertainment.
The reasons for considering an aquatic play area for your park or facility are numerous. Besides budgetary advantages, they are attractive, safe and are more conducive to free play, which greatly increases its child development capabilities.
Although each budget and situation is different, included below are some general thoughts on budgets and monetary advantages of aquatic play areas.
Aquatic play areas, if properly designed and maintained, require little or no supervision by a staff employee. Because most aquatic play areas have no standing water, there is no need for expensive lifeguards. Most of the staffing that is required for an aquatic play area is in the form of maintenance and routine checks of the equipment.
Another monetary benefit of an aquatic play area versus a traditional swimming pool is that the aquatic play area can be more easily adapted to the available space and doesn't require the complicated excavation and construction that would be necessary with a swimming pool. Aquatic play areas can take up as much, or as little room, as the municipality has to devote to it. Obviously, the larger the park, the more people it can serve, but some parks choose to include a lone piece of aquatic play equipment next to a traditional playground to offer the cooling power of water to that playground.
Aquatic play areas offer cities a chance to add value to water-based activities by providing the flexibility to create themes in decor and equipment. Many aquatic play equipment manufacturers offer a variety of themes and colors to match the desired effect. Some even take custom orders to achieve a specific, usually unavailable, theme. Besides the themes available from various companies, most of the equipment is designed to be attractive to children. Bright colors and appealing shapes can attract the child to the area, but the fun of the water will keep them there.
Besides the decreased risk of drowning, aquatic play areas reduce the dangers of other water-based areas. Because there is no standing water, due to constant drainage, the water that is sprayed and is coming in contact with the children has been treated and is safer than standing water.
If the water comes from a potable source, the water is safe; many parks are connected directly to the city's water lines. If the park is located in an area that is short on water, holding tanks can be employed to minimize waste. If holding tanks are used and the water is recirculated, proper filtration plans must be in order so that the water is safe when it comes out of the nozzles.
Aquatic play areas that include well-designed surfacing are even safer. The surfacing, which ideally protects children when they fall and helps reduce the risk of falling, can also add a dimension of beauty that accents the play equipment.
In all activities including young child ren and water, one of the best ways to ensure safe use is for parents to be involved. Proper parental supervision can help avoid many of the safety concerns with any play area.
The best way to determine if an aquatic play area makes sense in your community is to do your homework. Talk with aquatic play equipment companies and find out what they can do for you. Talk with the people in your city's organization that can help with water concerns, including your public health officials.
Children will always be attracted to water, especially as the heat of the summer is beating on them. An aquatic play area may just be the best solution.