Backyard Swing Set Safety
Many children grow up with fond memories of summers spent playing on a swing set in their backyard. When I grew up, only a few fortunate children had swing sets and it gained them favor from the others who hoped to be invited to play on them. But with the affordability of today's swing sets, they are a common yard toy.
Unfortunately, approximately 15,000 children are treated each year in the emergency room for injuries from backyard playground equipment. Most of the injuries are due to falling from equipment.
Although it might be tempting to buy a used swing set, it's better not to because of the possibility of unseen rust or damage. Never compromise safety for price. The best swing set to get is one that grows with your child whether modular, wooden or steel framed.
Regardless of the type of swing set you chose, look at the fasteners and chains used. Screws should have caps that keep children from scraping or cutting themselves. Chains should be coated or have a casing so that children won’t pinch, scrape or cut their fingers or hands. Rough surfaces or edges should be sanded down or covered to prevent injury.
For the safest use, place the swing set with six feet clearance all the way around and anchor it to the ground to avoid tipping or rocking. Since most swing set injuries are from falls, check the ground underneath for debris or sharp objects.
Consider adding soft material under the swing set such as sand or ground rubber. Avoid swing set with play equipment over six feet high for young children. Equipment over six feet in height doubles the chances of injuries.
Place the swing set in a shady area to avoid the equipment getting too hot. Metal slides that are heated by the sun can cause burns on little legs.
Check the swing set often for loose or rusted hardware. Check the swings, slide and chain casing for cracks.
You may have the safest play set available, but if your child doesn't know the rules, it becomes unsafe. Your child should understand that he or she needs to follow the same rules at a friend's house.
Common Sense Rules
· Don’t walk in front or behind a swing in use.
· Don’t wear clothing with strings, ties or anything that can get caught in playground equipment.
· Check equipment that is in the sun to see if it’s too hot.
· One at a time on the slide.
· Go down, not up, the slide.
· Don’t stand or kneel in the swing.
· One on a swing at a time.
· Don’t twist the swing chains.
· Don’t swing an empty swing.
· Make sure the swing has stopped before getting off.