4 Steps to Maintaining a Safe and Healthy Sandbox
Fast and Easy Tips for Play Time Safety
Kids don’t need costly, technologically complex toys and games in order to tap into their creative and imaginative powers. All that’s required to get kids’ creative juices flowing are some basic materials that can be found easily and inexpensively. One popular example of this is a sandbox. A big box or pit of sand and a few simple tools can keep kids occupied for hours.
Making sure the sandbox stays in good condition, though, is essential to ensuring that it remains a safe and healthy place to play. Unfortunately, the backyard sandbox is often missed by parents when it comes to play area maintenance. Here are four quick and easy tips for maintaining your backyard sandbox:
1. Replace the sand.
Over time, the sand in outdoor sand pits or sandboxes gets soiled and should be completely replaced. Generally speaking, replacing sand every year or two should be adequate, but more frequent changes might be needed depending on how often children play in the box and whether a sandbox cover is used consistently. Play sand, rather than building sand, is the best choice for children’s play areas because it is cleaner and free of materials, like clay, that are likely to stain clothing and skin.
2. Check sand toys.
Shovels, rakes, and other toys intended for sand play are not always the most durable of tools. Consequently, they don’t often last for more than a season or two. When sand toys or other tools used in the sandbox break, they can have sharp edges or pointy parts that can cause injuries. Before allowing kids to play in the sandbox this spring, check the condition of their sand toys. Toss out any broken or worn out tools, and replace them with tools made from more durable materials.
3. Check sand on a regular basis.
Don’t assume that the sandbox will stay in good condition over the course of the spring and summer. Sharp sticks, rocks, and other debris find their way into play sand quite easily. What’s more, sand toys may not be able to survive an entire season of active play. Checking the sand on a weekly basis allows you to discover and remove any potentially harmful debris and broken toys. You may also need to replenish play sand during these weekly check-ups, especially if kids have spent any time shoveling it out of the box.
4. Use a sandbox cover.
Sandbox covers are not used as extensively or as frequently as they should be, but they are one of the easiest and most important ways to maintain a safe and healthy sandbox. When used properly, sandbox covers prevent excess debris, like leaves, sticks, and rocks, from getting into the sand and creating a potential danger to children. Sandbox covers also protect sand from blowing away in strong breezes, and they keep insects from burrowing and nesting in the sand. Most importantly, sandbox covers prevent play sand from contamination by animals who use the sandbox as their toilet.
The only way to use sandbox covers successfully, of course, is to use them regularly when children are not playing in the box. Use sandbox covers that are made to fit your sandbox. Tarps and other makeshift covers can be easily dislodged or removed by animals or strong winds, making them unreliable and ineffective.
Overall, maintaining the backyard sandbox is a simple task that requires little time and few supplies. Keeping all play areas safe and healthy for your kids will give you peace of mind, and will provide your kids and their imaginations with hours of good, clean, simple fun.