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Making Sure Your Playset is Safe
Expert Advice | a year ago
Parents, as a rule, are concerned about their children’s safety. It’s basically the first thing on the job description right along with keeping your kids fed, clothed (most of the time), and sheltered.
So it's reasonable for any parent to think about safety when considering a new playset or swing set. After all, these big structures are made for kids to climb high, slide fast, and jump down from. It's natural to want to do all you can to ensure that your kids are safe while they play.
The good news is, swing sets and playsets have never been safer. All nationally sold products in the U.S. comply with ASTM F1148, a set of voluntary standards that is continually updated and improved. These products can all be considered generally safe when used as directed.
Based on our experience, however, many of the most important safety considerations are not directly related to the playset itself, but rather how and where you use it.
Kids are going to fall. They will jump off the swings and fall. They will run around the playset and fall. They may also fall off the deck of the playset or the monkey bars. Maintaining a shock absorbent surface is the best way to reduce injury when your child falls. Grass is not always the best choice as it and the dirt beneath it can pack down too much. See “Preparing your yard for your swing set” in Swing Sets 101 for a list of different ground surfacing materials.
Keeping nuts and bolts tightened, rough spots sanded, and watching out for wear and tear will help prevent any type of product failure that could cause injury.
ATTACHING NON-PLAYSET ELEMENTS
Never attach a rope, string, chain, cord, leash, or anything like it to a playset. Every year children are injured and even killed when they get entangled with such items. In addition, attaching or adding anything to the playset that did not come with it may inadvertently create a hazard. A playset you purchase new will not have any head and neck entrapments, for instance, when built to specification, but even the most innocent seeming addition may create one.
SLIDING WITH YOUR CHILD
This is a surprising one, but every year kids end up in the emergency room after going down a slide on a parent's lap. Their shoe can get stuck between the parent's leg and the side of the slide and can cause a fractured bone or sprained joint. If you go down the slide with your child, they should be barefoot or in socks to reduce friction and with their legs tucked safely between yours
This is the most important safety factor. Nothing can replace the supervision of an engaged parent or caretaker. Not only does this help keep your kids safe, you get to play with them, too!
For more about playset safety, see Swing Sets 101.