Monday, October 29, 2012

Safety, no matter how ridiculous

Elli's school recently had a big renovation of their play equipment.  Mostly I really approve of the changes because they went from an old wooden structure that was primarily a series of platforms for the kids to stand on to a all metal design that is full of all kinds of crazy athletic opportunities.  Instead of a fort the kids have a climbing wall, monkey bars, crazy spinning wheels to hang off of and other great choices - it is all about movement and acrobatics now.

The one thing that really confused me about the construction (aside from why it took a grotesquely long time to complete) was the design of the sandbox.  You see, when I design a sandbox I design it with four sides.  Not these folks though, they go with three sides.  Now you *could* design a good sandbox with three sides, if it was a triangle, but these guys simply built a square sandbox and left one of the sides out!  Unsurprisingly the sand spills out everywhere and makes a gigantic mess... who could have guessed?

It turns out this isn't hilarious incompetence but rather ridiculous government over regulation in the name of safety.  The fence surrounding the structure was built first and after the sandbox was put in it was noticed that if the fourth side was added to the sandbox it would render the fence too short and ostensibly unsafe.  Apparently there are regulations about fence height that must be strictly adhered to and this 1.5 meter fence is simply not up to the task of containing toddlers.  Installing a 15 cm sandbox edge would mean that the children (if they spontaneously develop rocket boots?) could stand on that edge and leap over the fence.  Oh no!  The danger!  They would end up in the schoolyard, at least 50 m from any road or other possible hazard.  Which is only IF they could get over the fence which is completely impossible.

So the builders left the side of the sidebox off and sand spills out everywhere.  Official bodies that regulate children's care desperately need to back off and take a reality pill.  It is nice to try to make sure our children are taken care of but we need to stop shooting ourselves in the foot to do it.

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