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Are Splash Parks Good Options for Summer Water Fun?

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Splash parks are fun for all ages.

Cooling off in a splash park is often tempting to adults as well as kids.

Photo © Susan Adcox
Question: Are Splash Parks Good Options for Summer Water Fun?
If you're confused by the terms splash park, splash pad, spray park and sprayground, relax. They are different terms for the same thing--an arrangement of spray features surrounded by a non-slip surface and often surrounded by a gaggle of wet, happy kids. Splash parks look like fun. Are they good choices for grandparents in search of recreation for the grandchildren?
Answer:

Splash parks are a good way to cool off the grandkids this summer without the stress of keeping them safe in a swimming pool. Municipalities like them because they can be operated without lifeguards or other attendants. Parents and grandparents like them because they are a way for kids to enjoy water fun with no risk of drowning. The kid-friendly surface, usually either concrete with a non-slip finish or a rubber matting, means that falls are rare.

Many spray parks are in open areas and charge no admission. Some are part of larger water parks that do charge admission. Occasionally a municipality or other agency will choose to enclose its splash park and have attendants present, usually in order to monitor behavior and cleanliness more closely. Splash parks are also available for residential installation, either as an adjunct to a swimming pool or as an independent feature. Lower cost and greater safety make them attractive alternatives to backyard pools.

If splash parks have a failing, it goes by the name of cryptosporidiosis, a water-borne illness. Swimming pools are also responsible for some outbreaks, but according to an article in the Journal of Environmental Health, a spray park provides an almost ideal setting for an outbreak. The illness is usually spread through fecal contamination. Children who are not toilet-trained should wear swim diapers in spray parks just as they do in swimming pools, and all children should be taught not to drink the water in pools or spray parks. If you are concerned about cryptosporidiosis, choose a splash park that does not recycle water and research the filtration and water sanitization used by a facility before you visit. You may also want to choose a spray park that has attendants to enforce cleanliness.

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