As the weather gets colder, you're climbing frame is going to be exposed to low temperatures, wet weather and high winds.
If there are any maintenance issues with the frame, winter weather can magnify them, causing significant damage.
Find the problems now, and fix them while they are small, and when the Spring arrives the climbing frame will be in top condition and ready to use.
Here's how to carry out a thorough play equipment inspection. 1. Ensure you carry out the inspection in good weather and bright sunlight. If it's pouring with rain, or getting dark, poor visibility may cause you to overlook something. Similarly if you are rushing because you are uncomfortably cold or wet, you will not give the frame the level of attention it needs.
2. Check every nut and bolt for looseness. Changes in the weather can cause the wood to expand and contract, loosening fixings. Your climbing frame might not get played with often over Christmas, but when it does, you want it to be safe.
3. If you can, remove plastic swing seats and accessories. Only do this if the process of removing them, then reattaching at a later date will not damage the parts. Plastic can become brittle in very cold weather, so storing pieces indoors, or in a sheltered storage area can preserve their useful life.
4. Inspect the wood for cracking or lifting. In dry weather, the wood may lift causing splinters. You can simply sand the surface down to make it safe again.
5. Inspect the area surrounding the play frame. Over time rocks may work their way up through the ground, or sharp objects could be discarded. Check to make sure the area is safe to play in, and there's no risk of falling onto something dangerous.
6. Check any safety mats are still fit for purpose. Have they perished in the poor weather? Do they need replacing? Also check that they haven't shifted from their original locations.
7. Oil any metallic moving parts to keep them moving freely.
8. Check the climbing frame's stability. It may have been a flat, level patch of ground when you first erected the climbing frame, but over time rain water, and wear and tear may have caused the ground to shift, creating an uneven surface, and potentially destabilizing the climbing frame.
9. Check ground anchors haven't worked their way lose. A protruding ground anchor poses a trip and fall risk, and will not be adequately securing the climbing frame to the ground.
10. Now is a good time to consider whether your climbing frame is fulfilling its potential. Does it offer your children enough of a challenge, and does it inspire their play ideas. Look at the options for the model frame you have. Could you swap a ladder for a climbing net, or change the swing arm for some monkey bars. If you aren't sure of the options available to you, please feel free to give us a call and discuss what accessories and attachments are available for the climbing frame you own.
With careful maintenance, and the occasional update, you climbing frame can provide many hours of outdoor fun for your children.