Rubber mulch is making itself known as the safest option for playground flooring. However, many public parks are slow to change the flooring that is already there. In Penny Park in Tulsa, Oakland, this may have cost a little girl her life. Hannah Todd was a vivacious nine-year-old who loved to play in the city park, which had sand flooring. The children had spent a while digging a huge hole in the sand, and police suspect that on November 12 Hannah tried to tunnel inside when the hole caved in, and she was trapped.
Outraged parents are requesting rubber mulch flooring from the city, the ultimate in playground safety, but the parks department is reluctant to move quickly because of the cost. Rubber mulch is more expensive than other options, but it is more economical in the long run because the rubber does not decay or blow away; it needs virtually no maintenance. Aside for the fact that it is safer than sand, rubber mulch provides a bouncy surface that prevents injuries with extra shock absorbency.
Rubber flooring comes in various forms, with rubber bond, a unified surface that is poured, rubber mulch chips, rubber wearmats for areas of high impact, and rubber curbs, to enclose landscaped areas. Each city must evaluate their parks and playgrounds and decide what will work best for them, but it is quickly becoming clear that rubber flooring for playground equipment is a necessity.
In a faltering economy, budgets are running dry, and many cities’ Parks departments are asking themselves if an investment in rubber flooring is necessary. As injuries run high, the answer is quickly becoming a resounding yes. Rubber mulch can save lives, as well as countless injuries from falls as children do what they do best – play.