US 20020040499 A1
A water play structure is provided having enhanced supervisory viewing. Wall panels, step panels, floor panels and other constructive components are comprised of materials having at least half-inch openings distributed uniformly throughout the component. Such materials may be rigid or yielding, depending on participant activity and structural component.
1. A water play structure comprising:
a. a frame;
b. at least one wall panel comprising non-opaque constructive material;
c. at least one planar member comprising non-opaque constructive material;
d. means for access to said planar member; and
e. means for water distribution, such water distribution means including at least one nozzle mounted on such frame for directing water into a spray pattern, means for circulating water to such nozzle, at least one valve attached to such means for circulating water to control the flow of water circulated to such nozzle, means for collecting water sprayed from said nozzle, and a pump for re-circulating such collected water to such nozzle.
2. The structure of
a. steel mesh;
b. nylon mesh;
c. nylon webbing
d. fiberglass grating; and
e. PVC grating
wherein said nylon mesh, nylon webbing, steel mesh, fiberglass grating, and PVC grating include uniformly spaced openings no less than one-half inch in open space.
3. The structure of
a. nylon mesh;
b. nylon webbing;
c. steel grating; and
d. PVC grating
wherein said nylon mesh, nylon webbing, steel grating, and PVC grating include uniformly spaced openings no less than one-half inch in open space.
4. The structure of
a. nylon mesh;
b. nylon webbing
c. steel grating; and
d. PVC grating;
wherein said steel grating, and PVC grating include uniformly spaced openings no less than one-half inch in open space.
5. The structure of
6. The structure of
7. The structure of
8. The structure of
9. The structure of
10. The structure of
11. The structure of
 This Application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application, Serial No. 60/239,039 entitled System for remote activation and control of water play elements, filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Oct. 10, 2000.
 The present invention relates generally to a water play structure. In particular, the invention relates to a water play structure that enables a viewer to “see through” such structure for supervisory viewing.
 The past few decades have seen increased water play structure production to accommodate increased public interest in entertaining water activities. The majority of water play structures are manufactured within a swimming pool and use opaque materials for structural components such as wall panels and steps. As such, a single lifeguard or supervisory individual cannot view participant activity throughout the entire play structure. Often, several lifeguards must be located at various points around the pool perimeter to effectively encompass a complete unobstructed view of participants in all structural areas to ensure participant safety. However, even with an increased number of safeguard personnel located around the structure, participant hazards may still not be detected with sufficient timeliness and accuracy to protect participants against harm. The present invention enhances participant safety while reducing the number of supervisory figures required to competently monitor participant activity.
 Presently, no water play structure describes the use of non-opaque materials to provide ease of supervisory viewing as contemplated by the present invention. For example, a child safety fence for a swimming pool is currently available for preventing unsupervised children from entering a hazardous area. Attached to the fence is an alarm sounding security system. In establishing the alarm system, the fence, composed of flexible netting with openings no more than four inches in diameter, is connected to an audible alarm signal such that weight on the netting, such as that of a child attempting to climb over such fence, causes activation of the alarm system. However, the fence disclosure does not address any use of the netting in constructive components of a water play structure, such as for steps and flooring. Moreover, the design of the fence using flexible netting was not intended to provide supervisory viewing on play structures but rather to substitute the need for a supervisor by providing a means for sounding a signal that an individual has entered a hazardous area, such as a swimming pool.
 An example of a structure using materials sufficiently transparent to provide supervisory viewing is provided in a ground surface climbing play structure. Having a rigid polyhedral frame for support, this structure utilizes “webbing” material stretched across a frame to provide amusement for children in climbing and play. The focus of the polyhedral configuration is to provide a safe and sturdy structure on ground surfaces for child activities such as climbing and playing. However, this play structure does not teach the use of netting or “webbing” for components such as steps, flooring and crawl tubes in a swimming pool. Additionally, an objective for using webbing in the structure is to provide a means for children to climb and play. As such, a means for supervisory viewing is not disclosed where webbing material for climbing and playing are attached to such structure that is opaque in nature.
 Also available are participatory water play structures providing solid wall panels, railings with upright members spaced four inches apart, and net bridges as play elements. Several key features distinguish the present invention from those features located on present water play structures. First, such participatory water play structures have walls, flooring and other play structures formed of solid opaque materials such as wood, fiberglass, PVC, aluminum, or steel. Such walls and floorings are located on elevated levels far above water level. In contrast, the present invention enables the use of grating, mesh, or the like with such materials to provide a means to “see through” the play structure and monitor all participant activity from a single vantage point. More importantly, the present invention enables such means to “see through” the play structure at water level, a plane most hazardous to participants.
 Second, current water play structures have railings with upright members spaced four inches apart, as required by safety standards. Such railings are a potential hazard to very young or small participants who may wedge body members within the open four-inch space. Conversely, the present invention enables the use of grating, mesh, or the like, with water resistant materials having no less than half-inch openings to provide an improved means for supervisory viewing. Such materials pose a lesser threat of injury to smaller or younger participants.
 Finally, the “net bridges” of present play structures are often composed of sturdy ropes and have large openings for crawling. The present invention does not teach the use of ropes for “bridges,” rather, what is disclosed are the use of nylon mesh or webbing and gratings having at least one-half inch openings as functional components to the play structure and the use of webbing to create a unique “crawl tunnel” play element providing supervisory viewing for participant protection.
 As is appreciated by those skilled in the art, all of the foregoing structures lack a means for maximal supervisory care in monitoring participants of a water play structure. Consequently, until now there existed an unfulfilled need for a water play structure providing supervisory viewing.
 The present invention enables a means for improved supervisory viewing of participants in a water play structure. More particularly, the present invention discloses the use of various materials in certain play components to enhance participant safety and supervisory viewing.
 An object of the present invention is to enable a means of “seeing through” a water play structure to improve supervisory viewing in observing participant activities.
 Another object of the present invention is to minimize potential liability often generated by safety issues associated with present water play structures.
 Yet another object of the present invention is to lower expenses for water play structure operation by requiring fewer lifeguard personnel at the play site. By using non-opaque materials for constructive water play structure components such as wall panels and flooring, fewer supervisory personnel are required.
 Finally, another object of the present invention is to provide supervisory viewing without interrupting optimal participant enjoyment. By utilizing structure materials such as grating PVC or nylon webbing, participants may continue to play with and on the water play structure without significant interruption of entertainment.
 Other objectives and goals will be apparent from the following description taken in conjunction with the drawings included herewith. The various features of novelty that characterize the invention will be pointed out with particularity in the claims of this application.
 These and other features, aspects and advantages of the present invention will become better understood with reference to the following description, appended claims, and accompanying drawings:
FIG. 1 illustrates a perspective view of a general arrangement embodiment of the present invention.
FIG. 2 illustrates a front elevational view of a section of a wall panel of the present invention.
FIG. 3 illustrates a perspective view of a section of a floor panel of the present invention.
FIG. 4 illustrates a perspective view of step panels of the present invention.
 The invention summarized above and defined by the enumerated claims may be better understood by referring to the following detailed description, which should be read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings. This detailed description of a particular preferred embodiment, set out below to enable one to practice the invention, is not intended to limit the enumerated claims, but to serve as a particular example thereof. Those skilled in the art should appreciate that they can readily use the concepts and specific embodiment disclosed as a basis for modifying or designing other methods and systems for carrying out the same purposes of the present invention. Those skilled in the art should also realize that such equivalent methods and systems do not depart from the spirit and scope of the invention in its broadest form.
FIG. 1 illustrates a generalized view of an embodiment of the present invention. Specifically, a water play structure 10 is located in a swimming pool 20. Water play structure 10 is comprised of a plurality of interconnected hollow ducts 30 having water forming components 40; such structure enables a variety of water play elements. Such water play elements may include, but are not limited to, water sprinklers, waterfalls, water geysers, water jets, or water fogs. Interconnected hollow ducts 30, providing a means to create water play elements may be connected with such materials as, glue, pressure clamps, screws, threaded couplings, flanges, or the like.
 Ducts 30 may be manufactured out of rust resistant metal, fiberglass, PVC, or other structurally and functionally suitable material. As used herein, the term ‘duct’ includes, by definition, all manners and shapes of pipe, tubing, or other functionally shaped water-carrying channel. All such ducts 30 are hollow to allow passage of water, yet of sufficient strength to permit at least one participant to safely climb within and upon its frame. Duct 30 may be formed of a plurality of shapes by bending and piecing together different length sections with glue or joint welds, or by pressure clamps, screws, threaded couplings, flanges, or the like.
 Additionally, water play structure 10, as depicted in FIG. 1, has non-water oriented constructive components such as steps 50, flooring 60, and wall panels 70 made of non-opaque materials to provide safety in entertainment. Preferably, steps 50 and flooring 60 comprise such materials as fiberglass grating, stainless steel grating, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) grating, or the like. Materials used in constructing wall panels 70 may include, but are not limited to, nylon mesh or webbing, steel mesh, fiberglass grating, or PVC grating. Such steps 50, flooring 60, and wall panels 70 may be attached to a water play structure by such suitable fastener means as welds, clamps, glue, or the like.
 The water play structure 10 may also include features for participant recreation. Those features include, but are not limited to: a crawl tunnel, a slide, a pole, or a set of bars connected to the water play structure at different elevations. An embodiment of the present invention preferably includes a unique crawl tunnel enabling supervisory viewing. Specifically, a crawl tunnel is disclosed comprising nylon webbing and the like.
 A three dimensional construction of the water play structure may be delineated by the interconnection of a plurality of ducts 30. The interconnected ducts 30 form a shape of sufficient size and separation to permit a participant to fit between water forming components 40. The limitations of functionality, budget and size constraint influence the size of such play structure, the number of water forming components 40 and the number of play elements included.
 A preferred embodiment of the present invention comprises a wall panel 200 as illustrated in FIG. 2. Wall panel 200 is attached to a play structure 10 by rods 201 inserted through wall panel loops 202. Such loops 202 are formed from the wall panel 200 itself and are located at a top and bottom section of the wall panel 200. Rod 201, inserted through a wall panel loop 202, is fastened to upright supports of the water play structure 10. Materials used in constructing the wall panel 200 and loops 202 include, but are not limited to, nylon mesh or webbing, steel mesh, fiberglass grating, or PVC grating having openings no less than one-half inch in diameter. Rod 201 may be hollow to conduct water flow and must be of sufficient strength to withstand participant play. Rod 201 may be manufactured out of rust resistant metal, fiberglass, PVC, or other structurally and functionally suitable material. Attachment of rod 201 to upright supports of the water play structure 10 may include such fastener means as welds, clamps, glue, or the like. Vertical uprights may be composed of ducts 30.
 As illustrated in FIG. 3, floor panels 300 are preferably fastened to a water play structure through tabs 301 and screws 302. Specifically, floor panel 300 has a plurality of tabs 301 located along the perimeter of the floor panel. Screws 302 are inserted through such tabs 301 and into horizontal posts attached to vertical uprights of play structure 10. Materials used in manufacturing floor panel 300 comprise such materials as fiberglass grating, stainless steel grating, PVC grating, or the like, having openings no less than one-half inch in diameter throughout. The horizontal posts are manufactured from materials sufficient to resist water corrosion and of satisfactory strength to support participant weight. Attachment of horizontal posts to upright supports of the water play structure 10 may include such fastener means as welds, clamps, glue, or the like.
 In another embodiment of the present invention, a crawl tunnel enabling enhanced supervisory viewing. is disclosed. Composed of materials such as nylon webbing and the like, having open spaces no less than one-half inch in diameter distributed throughout, such crawl tunnel is fastened to vertical uprights of a water play structure 10. Attachment of a crawl tunnel to upright supports may include such fastener means as welds, clamps, glue, or the like.
 As illustrated in FIG. 4, step panels 400 are preferably located proximate to a water play structure 10. Specifically, step panels 400 are fastened to posts 401 affixed into a base surface 402. Materials used in manufacturing step panels 400 comprise such materials as fiberglass grating, stainless steel grating, PVC grating, or the like, having openings no less than one-half inch in diameter throughout. Posts 401 are manufactured from materials sufficient to resist water corrosion and of satisfactory strength to support participant weight. Attachment of step panels 400 to posts 401 may include such fastener means as welds, clamps, glue, or the like. Posts 401 are affixed into a base surface 402 using bolts, welds, clamps, concrete, or the like.
 Wall panels 200, floor panels 300, step panels 400 and other constructive features of a water play structure 10 are composed of materials having openings of at least one-half inch in diameter throughout. Such openings provide improved visibility for supervisory personnel in monitoring participant activity. Additionally, the relatively small sized openings to larger sized participant body limbs are so disproportionate that the likelihood of injury from wedging or twisting is negligible. Finally, constructive features composed of materials having openings at least one-half inch in diameter will not interfere with water play while enhancing supervisory viewing to ensure participant safety.
 The present invention enables improved viewing of all areas in a water play structure. As such, fewer lifeguard personnel are required than current standards to monitor participant activity. Moreover, such improved viewing allows supervisory personnel to easily identify hazardous situations and act upon them preemptively before injuries can occur. These and other advantages as described above evidence an improved water play structure.
 While specific values, relationships, materials and steps have been set forth for purposes of describing concepts of the invention, it should be recognized that, in the light of the above teachings, those skilled in the art can modify those specifics without departing from basic concepts and operating principles of the invention taught herein. Therefore, for purposes of determining the scope of patent protection, reference shall be made to the appended claims in combination with the above detailed description.