Splash pads provide hours of family fun and shrieks of delights from kids on hot summer days. These water features are found in city plazas and suburban parks. If your town is thinking about installing a source of soggy fun for your residents’ enjoyment, you must know what to consider when planning a community splash pad.
Seek the advice of a professional aquatic engineering and construction company to assess possible locations for your splash pad. Consider which natural features you will be able to incorporate and which you will need to remove. Gather community input about where a splash pad could attract the most users and how residents perceive a splash pad as a community resource.
Splash Pad Safety
Splash pad design must consider safety. Children of all ages will be using the space. Think like a parent and consider all the ways kids could get hurt, including falls, sunburn, cuts, and, though splash pads nearly eliminate standing water, even drowning. With each idea for a feature, whether it is a large sculpture that sprays water, jets that shoot up randomly, or slippery slides, think about preserving the fun while minimizing the risk of injury.
Of course, parents are responsible for supervising their kids when using any kind of water feature. Plan how you will enforce a parental supervision requirement, including a minimum age for persons supervising young children.
Kids of all abilities must be welcome at the splash pad. Be deliberate in thinking about how children who use wheelchairs and kids with sensory sensitivities, developmental differences, blindness, or hearing loss can enjoy the space. Enlist the help of an ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) or universal design expert to help you anticipate and accommodate the needs of kids and caregivers with different abilities.
Water System, Drainage, and Surface Materials
Sanitation is a major aspect of safety for a splash pad. The water in a splash pad is typically either recirculated or drains away immediately. The latter is called a flow-through system. Flow-through systems use treated municipal water one time. The water immediately exits the area through a carefully selected drainage system to be reused for irrigation or sent to the sewer system for treatment.
Much like a swimming pool, recirculating systems reuse the water and use filtration and chemicals to clean it. Think about how many staff members you’ll need to clean and maintain the area and to enforce rules about staying out of the water for the required amount of time after chemicals have been added.
Surface materials must withstand weather and the sanitizing chemicals in a recirculating system. The typical material for the surface of a splash pad is brushed concrete, which is durable and easy to clean. Some splash pads now use synthetic materials made to stand up to chemicals and sunlight.
Planning and designing a community splash pad is a team effort of public servants, professional designers and engineers, and residents. Their input and concerns must be integral to the process to create a feature for the community that is fun, safe, and sanitary.