Playing it Safe on Swing Sets for your Children

A s a child, you probably remember pumping hard on the swing set so that you could go higher and higher; your legs would go back and forth as you soared up then down on the swing. You may have had a swing set in your own backyard. As a parent, you will take all the necessary precautions to install your own child’s swing set in your backyard. It does take planning and preparation to make sure that your swing set is safe.

Falls are a common occurrence among preschool aged children. Therefore, in order to minimize injuries that can happen with a swing set, you should not have packed-down hard dirt. But rather, you should have sand or pea gravel, or a rubber surface under the swing set. It is required by law that day cares and school playgrounds have one of these surfaces. If a child should fall on sand, pea gravel or a rubberized surface, his or her injuries will generally not be as severe as if he or she were to fall on a hard packed dirt surface. However, many parents do install their swing sets on grass in their homes (which still is not as bad as packed down dirt).

After you have decided which turf to put under your swing set, you need to decide where you are going to place it. The swing set should be about six feet (at least two meters) away from any encumbrances (buildings, fences, etc). It should also be far enough away from other play areas, such as a sandbox, and areas that get a great deal of walking, so that a child does not “kick” another child while swinging.

Put the swing set in an area that contains shade so that the surfaces of it are not too hot to the touch. Also put up some type of barrier or border around the swing set to remind children not to run in front of the swings.

Choose a swing set that will be useful and interesting to your children. Some innovative swing sets even have a little play house on top of a platform. Then the children can pretend it’s a little fort or castle. This type of addition enhances the enjoyment of the swing set.

Remember that safety is your ultimate concern; therefore, you need to be careful if you install a playhouse that would be high off the ground. There are railings, of course, but the item that causes the most injuries is the ladder that the kids use to climb up to and down from the playhouse. The round rungs that some ladders contain are quite easy for a little child to slip through. If you are going to have a playhouse, consider flat rungs instead of round, as slipping accidents are less likely to occur.

Some people opt for a wooden swing set. You need to be careful with this material because if it is pressure treated, it can leach chemicals. Some small children like to put their mouth on things, so if this is the case with any of your children, caution them and watch them carefully so they do not “lick” the swing set. Pressure-treated wood is currently being studied for adverse results in children’s playground equipment.

One benefit of wood, however, is that it does not get as hot in the summer as metal does. However, if it is not specially treated, it may not last as long. There is a new product that is specifically used to treat wood called ACQ. It uses copper rather than arsenic.

You also need to make sure that the screws and bolts used to hold your equipment together are composed of a material that will not corrode the metal. One fairly common cause of accidents is when a child’s clothes become caught on a protruding bolt or between moving parts. Therefore, you need to scrutinize the swing set careful to make sure there are no protruding items that can be dangerous.

You need to keep your swing set maintained on a regular basis. This also means setting up your swing set correctly, specifically adhering to the instructions. Also, keep in mind that there is less chance of a child being hurt on a swing set that is composed of rubber rather than metal because his chances of injury are less likely in the event of a collision with another child.

If you have a baby or very small children, you may want to consider purchasing a baby swing. Make sure that it attaches securely. A child’s safety is mostly dependent on his supervision when he is very young. Watch him closely while at play or swinging from the baby swing.

It seems as though children nowadays have more supervision than they did years ago. In fact, some people even complain that children have too much supervision. This may be the result of people having fewer children, whereas, years ago, parents may have had too many children to watch at one time. In any event, it is so important to watch your children and make sure they obey the rules of the playground, then intervene if the play gets out of hand. After all, one of the basic elements to playground safety is supervision. Some of the more basic rules of playground/swing set safety include: no running in the path of a swing that is moving; stop at the marking and check to see if there is someone on the swing; no jumping off the swing; no running under the swing; and no throwing the swing. Also there should be no climbing on the support bars or hanging from the bars of the swing.

Even with all this supervision, your child will still be able to feel free as he plays on the swing set.

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