Constructing a Safe Playground Area

Howdy, Foax! Were seeking a Devils Advocate regarding a DIY construction project in the lowcountry of the Great Sovereign Confederate State of Georgia. My vastly better half and I are preparing to construct a playhouse for our grandchild. After careful research, we purchased a slide-swing combo that ostensibly could be constructed over a weekend. Of course, nothing was said about the fact that preparing a 38 L x 23 W x 1 D safe playground area would require exponentially more effort and time than that required to build the playhouse, which leads me to the following questions:
(1) Are 787 cubic feet of mulch (the play area surrounding the playhouse, filled to a depth of 9" 12") truly necessary? Given that the maximum height from which a child may fall is 90" (i.e., a child leaps off the swing at its maximum extension) will such a soft area truly protect life, or is it simply one more in the long list of sound good manufacturer recommendations designed to shield the company from Torts-R-Us? (I note that none of the seven public playgrounds near my residence possess more than 1" of mulch at most. More than this, the playhouse manufacturer recommends the purchase of a safety surfacing called SofPlay, which sells for almost four times as much as the playhouse itself. While I recognize many feel no cost is too great where child safety is concerned, Reason suggests that this is an illogical fallacy, especially in the absence of evidence that such a quantity of soft ground is any better at mitigating injuries over time than ground mulched to a lesser depth.)
(2) Assuming a deep mulch to be desirable, our initial response would be to construct a 38 L x 23 W x 20" D area, level the ground within, and border this with pressure treated 2 x 6s. After constructing and planting the playhouse, we would fill the bottom of the play area with pea gravel to a depth of 6 (to expedite drainage), cover this with 12" of rubber mulch under a porous matting material, and top the whole off with 2" of natural mulch, to be replenished seasonally as required. The 64K questions: (a) Does this make sense, and (b) do yall have any better ideas?
Thanks very much for your kind assistance. May our experience, and your expertise, prove useful to future generations of overzealous grandparents.
--
Waltrrr

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Waltrrr wrote: (snip)

(snip)
The manufacturer's guidelines are almost certainly based upon recommendations published by the CPSC. The CPSC did impact testing with the various materials (sand, pea gravel, mulch, etc.) and came up with depths which would protect against "life threatening" head injury, not "big owie", or even "serious injury" so I think it's OK to view it as a reasonable minimum standard.

I think the 2" of wood mulch would quickly get displaced, exposing the matting. I'd skip the rubber mulch and go with 9" - 12" of wood mulch.
CPSC information here: http://www.cpsc.gov/CPSCPUB/PUBS/playpubs.html
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Mike Paulsen wrote:

I like # 2, BUT: I'd go 6 " of the rubber under the mat and go 8 - 10 " of the wood mulch.
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It depends on your (and the child's) tolerance for bumps and bruises* If the child isn't big enough to survive a header off the swing onto turf, it shouldn't be on the equipment unattended anyway. how old is this creature?
You were a child once, right? How deep was the mulch under YOUR swing? (Personally, I remember dirt. With an amazing resemblance to concrete.) On the other hand, I was allowed to jump off beams into loose piles of hay in the barn, swim in the ocean with no personal floatation device, and climb trees all the way to the top, too, so I may not be a good measure of what's acceptably dangerous. (What's a good depth of mulch for a fall out of a 30' tree?)
--Goedjn
* And your tolerance for liability exposure. Deep mulch probably won't affect the injury rate much, but not following the manufacturer's recommendation may help the parent's medical insurance company when they decide to sue you. And the parents probably won't have any choice about whether to sue or not.
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follow manufactuer directions to the letter because if a child gets hurt there and its not to snuff you will be sued and your homeowners will likely disown you.
So settlement will come out of your wallet.
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Waltrrr wrote:

This is assuming that you want to teach the kid that falling from that height and at that velocity is harmless. If you want them to learn about the laws of nature, leave it as dirt.
All of my children (and a lot of the neighbors children) have survived on our unprotected playground equipment. We have a rope swing, trampoline, see-saw, jungle jim and a big wire spool that have taught our children that it is wise to NOT fall and hit the dirt. It hurts.

Doesn't make a bit of sense to me. Unless you intend to open it to the public unattended.

Man, what is it today? Jump on all of Roberts' pet peeves?
--
Robert Allison
Rimshot, Inc.
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If that trampoline is of any size I hope its of recent viintage, with all the proper safety protections.
They have been removed from most schools because a bad bounce can bring someone down wrong and break their neck, paralyzing them for life.
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

It is a homemade model that I built out of pipe for a mat that someone gave me. The only safety equipment on it is me. Start to do something stupid and you get kicked off for a day or a week, depending upon the infraction.
The only injury we have had on it in the last seven years is a kid ran into it and broke his arm. He wasn't bouncing on it, he just ran into it while running in the yard.
Keep in mind that all of my kids and the neighborhood kids have learned that if you push the envelope too far, it hurts. You don't have to tell them not to do that again.
Reminds me of myself when I was growing up (back when dinosaurs roamed the earth). My mother told me a hundred times not to touch the oven cause it was hot. After I touched it, she never had to say that again.
--
Robert Allison
Rimshot, Inc.
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