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Stop Vandals in their Tracks

Councils and developers are investing in a broad range of recreational facilities for communities – but how do you manage the vandalism risk to limit maintenance costs?

It is a sad fact of the modern world that anti-vandalism strategies must be a key part of the planning process when designing playgrounds to limit expensive ongoing repairs. These solutions should be designed in before construction starts to maximise the life of the playground and enhance safety for all users.

Quality shade sails are an important component of any modern playground because of the sun-safe demands of families. Councils across Western Sydney, in particular, have heard the call for shade and are implementing solutions. The best shade structures can block up to 98 per cent of ultraviolet radiation and protect children’s sensitive skin. The question is – how can you design the structures to deter vandalism?

The best approach is always to make it hard enough for them that they have to go elsewhere to cause damage. There are a range of solutions which, when incorporated into the design of a playground, can significantly reduce the impact of vandals. Installing lights and cameras (including fake cameras) is a preventative action that curbs would-be troublemakers, while the installation of anti-climbing devices to shade structure columns can prevent people from climbing posts.

Other key design considerations include:

  • Keeping sight lines open to shade structures so any possible acts of vandalism can be seen by the public
  • Ensuring the area is well lit at night, or secured against night-time use
  • Constructing shade structures at a sufficient height to keep them out of easy reach of climbers. A minimum of 3.5m clearance above the ground is recommended and 2.5m above turrets/equipment in high-risk areas
  • Using fire-retardant or non-combustible material for shade
  • Removing turrets on high equipment or making sure new shade is high enough to prevent access on to the shade from the equipment
  • Factoring in surrounding elements, such as trees, fences etc that may also give climbers a way to get on to the sails

Budgets are an important part of the decision-making process for playground equipment and shade structures. Poorly installed shade sails can be an invitation to vandals to inflict damage, and the ongoing cost of repairs can quickly outweigh any initial cost savings. Your return on investment could be severely affected if your shade structures are not adequately engineered against vandalism.

Seek professional design assistance from companies that are familiar with designing structures in public play environments. It is essential that your shade sails are properly engineered by a qualified and licensed shade structure company that gives you site-specific drawings and a certificate of design for your structure. Such drawings can provide peace of mind that sails will provide shade for a longer and safer playtime, while also highlighting measures to stop vandals in their tracks. Ensure, too, that the shade structure company is suitably insured and can provide warranties for its work and products. The best providers will also be able to help you reduce any headaches around applications to councils, government bodies, schools and developers to design and construct appropriate shade sail structures.

Greenline has a proud history of designing leading commercial shade structures that are within budget and deliver the best possible outcomes for outdoor play and recreation areas.

Contact us and find out how we can help you limit the damage from vandalism and maximise the life of your playgrounds.

Author: Stephanie Plane