Boardwalk Railing: Keeping Families Safe
One of the great joys of America is the ability to take your family to public parks and other recreational facilities. As a parent of five, I get a lot of value from watching my children climbing on playgrounds and exploring nature.
What I don’t want to worry about is exposing my child to unnecessary danger.
It is my responsibility as a parent to keep my children safe, but there is something that can be done to reduce the risk and help families stay safe.
Braddock Bay Park in Greece, New York agreed that minimum compliance wasn’t enough to keep people safe. They installed guardrails on a short pier so families could enjoy the beautiful view without worrying about slipping into the marsh around them.
Why Install Railing on a Boardwalk?
Local code may or may not require that you install railing. However, there are many instances where a barrier could have made a difference in someone’s life.
A child was burned when he ran off the path on a Yellowstone trail. This can happen even to the most vigilant of parents. It takes one wayward glance for a child to rocket off in the wrong direction. Imagine how much more time a parent would have to stop their child if there were guardrail slowing them down. Some children may even find the guardrail more entertaining than whatever it was they were chasing after.
The life and well-being of a person are of paramount importance. It’s still vital that we protect the environment itself. It is illegal to leave the boardwalk at Yellowstone because it can create an offensive and hazardous environment. People have fallen through the cracks and created new ones as they step on weaker areas.
What Kind of Guardrail Should I Install on a Boardwalk?
The first thing that you want to do is check your applicable codes. This could be ADA, OSHA, or any local codes that apply. We’ve developed a guide for ADA and a guide for OSHA if you want some help understanding when they apply to you. You can connect with an expert to help you navigate the codes that apply to your project.
Once you’ve reviewed that and understand when or if they apply, then here are some choices you can make to design a railing for a boardwalk. Some of these choices may be required depending on code. However, let’s assume that you don’t need a guardrail and determine why you would use each of these options.
Many rail systems just use a top rail and a midrail. However, you can add a third rail as Braddock Bay Park did. This adds a greater barrier for children without having to spend lots of money on infill solutions, which we will cover next.
Using a lower rail can also give you the obstruction you need to prevent wheelchairs and other walking aids from slipping off the edge.
Infill panels can be vertical bars, wire grids, or chain-link fences that prevent at least a 4-inch sphere from passing through the guardrail at any point. Infill panels are perfect for when you want to truly prevent a child from slipping through a guardrail. It would require a spider-toddler to scale them, which do exist (my four year old is one of them). However, this is the best way to mitigate that risk.
Some use powder coating as a form of protection for your metal surfaces. This isn’t as necessary if you have a well galvanized railing without welding to compromise the galvanization. Aluminum is another good solution.
However, sometimes you just want your railing to look pretty. Your brand or your goal to allow for immersion could cause you to choose specific colors for your railing. Or, maybe you want the guardrail to be more visible and would like to use bright colors so that people can see them from afar.
Take a cue from Braddock Bay Park and protect your boardwalks with a railing. Help keep families safe when they visit your public space.