Last Thursday, I sat in traffic behind a sea of yellow caterpillars in the morning. They all were moving in different directions with heads bopping up and down inside. It reminded me…..School is back in session for another year. At the next set of lights, I began to drift away to an article I read about a teacher who severely damaged her hand in a gate at a local school. I couldn’t help but to think how odd that was because school fencing is there to keep our children safe and therefore must also be safe.
Fencing for schools must first be safe in order to keep our children safe. Fencing is designed to create a barrier between what we want to keep out and what we want to keep in. What better place to have a lot of fencing than at a school where we want to keep strangers out and our children safely in. That would make sense barring that the fencing does not present an unsafe hazard. Below I have listed several items that you should look for at your children’s school regarding the fencing they play in and around all day long.
- Sharp twisted salvages. Fencing is available with the ends knuckled over on both the bottom and the top. It is also available with a sharp twisted barb on one or both ends. Sometimes this type of end treatment, salvage, is specified and installed because the person designing it borrowed the specifications from a standard security fence design thinking they were simply keeping the children secure and not knowing the typical hazards of a security fence.
- Sharp icicles. Not the frozen ones but the ones you can find on hot dipped galvanized chain link fabric when you run your hands across the face of the chain link. It will leave slight tears in the skin with some tears that can result in bleeding. All schools and recreational facilities should only use pregalvanized chain link fabric that is free from the icicles formed during the dipping of the fabric in the hot dipped process. This often happens because most designers are not familiar with chain link fabric and its characteristics.
- Pinch points are another hazard. Every operating gate presents some form of a pinch point hazard. With this, every gate should include signage warning others that there is a potential hazard. This gives school staff an alert to be proactive in warning and educating children about the safe operation of gates and doors.
- Holes under the fencing. We are not greatly concerned about our children making a prison break. We simply do not want them to their hands or feet under the fabric during play. Children are wearing flip-flops and open toed shoes to school. Regardless of the salvage type mentioned above, If a child gets a hand or foot under the fabric and pulls it back, it will injure the child. We want to make sure that there are no holes under the chain link fence where a child could accidentally get caught.
- Keep a safe distance. The school staff should be educating our children to always keep a safe distance from any fencing. Chain link fence has several parts and pieces. Most of these will have an edge or a point that could injure a child. We should never see our children crawling on or over the fence.
With more and more of the yellow creatures stirring about, I am sadly reminded that summer is almost over. At least football is on the way!!!