Swing Set Safety measures that keep kids safe
May 18, 2012
A playground is a great addition to your home that allows your children to get outside, enjoy the fresh air, exercise and play with friends. It is key to having an at home playground to keep it well maintained and in safe working condition for your children. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, nearly 51,000 children visit hospitals and emergency rooms each year due to injuries on private, at home playgrounds. By maintaining your swing set you can reduce the likelihood of incidents, and ensure your home playground is in the best condition for safe play. Like all equipment, swing set parts can wear out over time, and for the safety of your children you should be diligent about inspecting all parts and replacing them as needed.
The first thing to know about providing a safe at home playground for your children is setting it up properly. As you set up your swing set, make sure that it is located in an area free of debris, tree stumps, standing water, and other materials that could cause harm. Also, be sure to put the appropriate surface under the at home playground to provide a soft landing and prevent injuries from falls. You can choose from sand, mulch, wood chips or pea gravel, as well as synthetic play-surface materials. It should be 6 to 12 inches deep, depending on the potential fall height, to prevent injury. Make sure your swings, slides and other accessories are age appropriate for your children. Additionally, make sure all climbing spaces and high areas have guardrails, and that there are no spaces in any part of the play equipment where children can get pinched or get their heads stuck.
Once your play area is installed and in use it will need maintenance on a regular basis. This means checking all the hardware, accessories and large parts for wear and tear, or damage. Before your kids go out and play each day you should inspect the area to make sure no debris has blown in overnight and nothing has fallen onto the play equipment damaging any of the parts. Several times each year you should inspect your home playground thoroughly and look for rotted wood, worn floor boards, guardrails that are coming loose, rusted metal parts, swing seats that are wearing out, open swing chains, hardware that is sticking out and any broken accessories. If during your inspection you find broken or worn down parts, do not let your children play on the equipment until all the parts are fixed or replaced. It is important to note that if you do allow your children to play on equipment with broken parts you run a very high risk of injury. Also, during your periodic inspections, check the level and feel of the surface area. If it is getting packed down and hard, it may be time to replace it or fill it up to make a safer surface area with better shock absorption.
If you do find broken or worn down parts, there are several ways to quickly and efficiently fix or replace them. First, if your equipment is fairly new and you are the one that installed it, go back to the manufacturer and get replacement swing set accessories and parts to be sure that they fit your exact needs. If it is an older piece of play equipment, you might consider replacing the whole thing because in general it may not be up to safety requirements. If you do decide to replace the whole set, do not give it away or use it elsewhere – destroy it so someone else does not use it since such use will pose an injury risk to other children. If it's not that old, but you don't know, cannot determine, or cannot locate the manufacturer, you can easily get replacement parts and accessories online.
Typically, maintaining an at home playground is easy and affordable with quality replacement parts readily available as needed. Be sure to teach your children safe playground rules to follow not only at home but on public playgrounds as well. That way they can always have fun and safe playtimes that will keep them active partakers of outdoor fun!
For more safety tips, visit our page on Playground Safety.