6 Tips for Keeping City Parks Safer
City parks are a valuable addition to any community, providing a public space for people of all ages to gather and have fun or enjoy some exercise. A city park should be a welcoming place that puts people at ease. However, the design and environment of a park can significantly impact people’s perception of its safety and may influence whether they feel comfortable visiting. Characteristics like poor lighting or being prone to vandalism can turn people away from visiting.
Your city’s parks and recreation department can take several steps to make your city parks safer and more inviting for the community. Gain some tips for keeping city parks safer in this guide.
1. Keep Safety in Mind When Designing Your Park
Improving park safety starts in the park design and construction process. Certain aspects of park design, like the layout and visibility, are essential factors that influence safety. Here are a few considerations to keep in mind if your park is still under construction:
- Layout: The ability to comfortably navigate the park is a major factor contributing to visitors feeling safe. A confusing park layout might have many confusing paths and disorienting turn-offs. Consider adding easily recognizable landmarks or reference points to help people find their way. Clear-defined pathways and easy-to-locate entrances and exits are also essential elements to include.
- Isolation: Areas of isolation have low visibility and might make visitors feel like they would not be seen or heard if they needed help. It may be impossible to eliminate all isolated areas, depending on your park’s terrain. However, taking steps to improve sightlines in your park and even installing public phone stations can help reduce the feeling of isolation.
- Opportunities for vandalism: Vandalism can occur nearly anywhere and takes many forms, from graffiti to broken streetlights. Increasing public visibility in your park can discourage vandals, as can creating a city park that welcomes families. Another effective strategy is to educate your community about the consequences of vandalism.
2. Install Good Lighting
Lighting is vital to public park safety, especially if people use the park after dusk. People feel more comfortable in well-lit areas, whether going for a solo jog or taking their family for a picnic. Having ample and strategically-placed lighting is critical for encouraging community members to visit the city park.
Install good lighting in parking lots and around park facilities, such as playground equipment and restrooms. Pay attention to areas where people frequently gather, such as park benches or picnic tables. Pathways should also be well-lit to help people navigate the park routes. You may also consider motion-triggered lighting in some areas.
3. Perform Regular Inspections
Regular inspections are vital to ensuring city park safety. Having a team that conducts inspections of your park can help you identify areas that need attention and prevent hazardous issues from arising. Here are a few elements to look for during your park inspections:
- Burned-out or broken lights
- Knocked over benches or picnic tables
- Slip-and-fall hazards in or outside restrooms
- Broken concrete or potholes
Maintain Your Equipment
Playgrounds are another area of the park that requires regular inspections. Broken elements or chipped plastic can occur over time if your playground structures are older or have been misused. Broken components, jagged edges and protruding nails are all serious risks. If your playground structures are too seriously damaged, you might need to upgrade the equipment.
Following maintenance tips for playgrounds can help keep your city park in top condition. During regular safety inspections, check for broken playground components or loose connections. Tighten any loose bolts and replace broken playground elements. Check for wood splinters, rust and peeling paint, as these could all indicate issues with the equipment’s structure. You may also need to take additional steps to protect playground equipment during the winter.
Keep Things Clean
Maintaining a clean city park encourages people to enjoy all the activities your park has to offer. Litter-like food, wrappers and other trash is unsightly and discourages visitors. A buildup of trash in your playground can also pose a health hazard by creating an environment where bacteria thrive.
During your inspections, make sure to look around for litter. Dispose of wrappers, cups, napkins and other types of trash as soon as you notice them to prevent pileup. Providing plenty of trash receptacles can help remind park visitors to keep the area clear of litter.
4. Put Up Clear Signage
Park signage promotes easy navigation for visitors and improves city park safety. Signage displays the rules of the park and its facilities for all to see, encouraging visitors to help keep one another safe while they use the park. You can also use signage to encourage people to report suspicious activity and vandalism.
One aspect of park signage is playground safety guidelines. Posting a sign with playground rules can educate parents and children about what kind of behavior is expected when they enter the park. Using signage with positive messages rather than a list of things not to do can encourage a sense of ownership and community among park visitors.
5. Consider Video Surveillance
Another way to increase public park safety is installing surveillance cameras if it’s within your means. While informal surveillance through increased visibility can help, video surveillance is a powerful tool for keeping parks safe and discouraging dangerous behavior. Video surveillance takes live footage that can be archived and viewed later by city park officials if needed. With extra visibility into what goes on at your park, you can deter vandalism, theft and other acts of violence.
Install video cameras in well-lighted areas to discourage any misconduct. It can be helpful to have the live footage displayed at your parks and recreation department to encourage additional surveillance.
6. Utilize Access Control
You might decide that some areas of your city park, like secluded areas or restrooms, shouldn’t be accessible at all times of the day. For instance, you might close park restrooms after sunset to discourage loitering or vandalism or limit pool access when a lifeguard isn’t available.
Remote access control might be the easiest solution if you need to keep some spaces inaccessible. Typically, someone has to physically lock a door or close a gate to keep visitors out. With remote access control, you can remotely lock doors and close areas when they’re off-limits.
Improve Your City Park With Miracle® Recreation
Keeping your city park safe is vital for encouraging visits and making the park enjoyable for everyone in your community. Following safety tips like the ones above can help ensure your park is welcoming and fun for people of all ages.
At Miracle Recreation, we design playground equipment that brings the thrill back into outdoor play spaces. As an innovator in the playground industry, we design playground equipment to support kids in all stages of development. Miracle Recreation provides playground equipment to suit your city park’s needs, space and budget. Browse our products today, or contact your local sales representative to learn more.