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Backyard Playset Safety

Kis's Backyard Playset As the weather warms up, kids are itching to get outside and play after a long winter. Their parents are looking forward to it, too. If you've been thinking about installing a playset in your backyard, now is the time to start planning.

But before you run off to the lumber yard, you need to take a look around your yard with safety in mind. Each year, more than 200,000 children go to U.S. hospital emergency rooms with injuries associated with playground equipment.

Whether the cause is old, worn-out or low-quality equipment, improper surfaces or risky behavior, most injuries can be prevented. By using common sense, and with the help of the guidelines below, you can make sure your kids stay safe while having fun.

Consider these factors when adding a playset to your backyard.

Design and spacing

Make sure you are installing equipment that is appropriate to the age of your kids. Check all open spaces in the equipment. “They should measure either less than 3 1/2 inches so kids can't fit their heads in or larger than 9 inches, so their heads won't become trapped,” explains Karl Jessen, president of Detailed Play Systems, a company that provides plans for build-it-yourself playsets.

The playset should have well-defined play areas that are arranged for safety. “You don't want kids who are going down the slide landing right in front of kids who are on the swings or climbing up the ladder,” says Jessen.

When locating the equipment in your yard, you should have a 6-foot fall zone in all directions. This means that the area around your playset should be free of obstacles like fences or bushes or hard surfaces like sidewalks that could lead to worse injuries in case of a fall.

backyard playset made of durable plasticInstallation

Look for well-designed equipment made from durable materials and put together with high-quality hardware. Make sure equipment is assembled properly and set on a level surface, anchored firmly to the ground. Install bumper pads for corner cushioning and non-skid strips for places where little feet need a better grip.

Protective surfacing

Almost 60 percent of all playground injuries are caused by falls to the ground. Asphalt, concrete and even grass are considered hard surfaces not appropriate for use under a playset. Mulch, wood chips, fine sand and fine gravel are considered acceptable surfaces.

The best options are synthetic soft play surfaces specifically designed for use with playsets, such as shredded rubber mulch or engineered wood fiber. “These are non toxic to children and pets and one application lasts for years,” says Jessen


Playsets get a lot of hard wear and tear, so be sure to inspect your equipment regularly for anything that could be a hazard to kids, such as loose nuts and bolts, sharp edges, rust or cracking and splintered wood. “Don't forget to check around the play area as well. Make sure it is free from debris such as sharp sticks, rocks, toys and any other possible hazards,” says Jessen.

Teach safety

Last, but not least, parents need to teach their children playground safety.

Kids need to know they shouldn't push while on playground equipment. Teach your kids to look out for others when they're using the equipment.

Even if your kids know all the rules, parents should still supervise them on the playset at all times. “We have what we call the ‘kitchen window rule,'” says Jessen. “The goal is for parents to erect the playset in a part of the yard where they can see it from the house.”

Source... Detailed Play Systems - ARA Content

More about playground equipment safety around the Web:

Playground Safety Checklist

Backyard Sets For Kids - Plans


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