Installing a playground gate is much more important and nuanced than simply choosing a gate and adding it to your playground design.
The gate of a playground serves several purposes, and it’s important to get this detail right.
Playground gates should be a different colour from the standard fencing.
Consider your playground from the point of view of a small child; often, all they can see is the fencing around the park. Even some adults will find it difficult to locate the gate to a playground if it is the same colour as the rest of the fencing. A playground must have a visible entrance/exit, not only so that children and parents can find their way in and out. In the event of an accident, the emergency services may need to gain quick access to the playground, and so this route should be visible and clear to them. This is considered a safeguarding issue and is of vital importance when considering your playground design.
Gates in a playground should close automatically but slowly.
It is not enough to add a gate on normal hinges, or worse, a spring hinge that slams shut quickly. A gate that does not close automatically leaves the gate open to dogs or other animals, which becomes a child safety issue. It may also allow children to wander off from the playground. A good playground should be safe and secure at all times. If the gate closes too quickly, you risk it closing on a child who can’t move quickly enough or hurting small fingers. According to RoSPA, a playground gate should take at least five seconds to close. This allows wheelchair or pushchair access and prevents the gate from striking the back of a child.
Playground gates should usually open outwards.
Playgrounds are often situated within a larger park where dogs may be let off their leads, and a dog will find it fairly easy to push a gate open and gain access to the playground. However, a gate that opens outwards will not be easy for a dog to open.
Playground gates should have no finger or hand traps.
Children often don’t consider the position of their hands when opening and closing gates, so it is important that your playground gate should not pose a hazard for their fingers or hands. We have already mentioned that a gate closing too quickly could trap hands, but there is also the question of the hinging mechanism. RoSPA states that there should be a minimum gap of 12mm between the gate and the posts on either side of it and that this gap should remain through the full range of movement of the gate. It is also important to ensure the gate will not trap feet if it closes over them; it should be between 60mm and 110mm off the ground.