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Community Associations Risk Playground Litigation

5/31/2000  -  Alexandria, VA

Are community associations at greater risk of being sued for playground injuries than other groups? Chances are the answer is yes. Because community association playgrounds are located on private property, they are not subject to municipal safety regulations and periodic inspections the way public playgrounds are.

An estimated 200,000 injuries occur on the nation's playgrounds each year. Many of these injuries result in lawsuits because playground equipment is obsolete, not properly maintained, or inferior materials or weak designs have been used.

A book now available from the Community Associations Institute (CAI), can help community association managers and board members ensure that their playgrounds and tot lots are as safe as possible. "Playgrounds for Young Children," based on a national survey of playgrounds, looks not only at safety issues, but also at design elements and maintenance concerns. The book contains specific information on tot lots, which tend to be popular in homeowner associations. It also provides in-depth information on all types of materials and equipment.

Probably of greatest interest to community associations is the detailed information on conducting safety inspections and implementing an effective maintenance plan. Worksheets provide step-by-step information on how to service and maintain all types of playground equipment, and checklists make it easy to document and manage risk. This comprehensive book even has fund raising suggestions for associations that want to finance a new playground.

Many homeowner associations are simply not aware of the danger posed by obsolete or poorly maintained equipment. "This book really opened our eyes," stated Jan Bradshaw, President of the Hunters Woods Condominium Association in Reston, Virginia. "Our association immediately tore down its two playgrounds once we realized how antiquated and unsafe they were. Then we rebuilt a safe, modern playground based on the information in this book."

"Playgrounds for Young Children" (250 pages) is available for $40 by calling (703) 548-8600, or via CAI's Web site. CAI members receive a 40 percent discount on all publications.

The Community Associations Institute is a nonprofit association created in 1973 to educate and represent the nation's 205,000 community associations—condominium associations, homeowner associations and cooperatives. CAI members include homeowners, associations and related professionals and service providers.

Phone: 703-970-9235