You purchase toys and playground equipment for your kids to make them happy – but that doesn’t change the fact that large, clunky items welded together with nails and sharp tools are inherently a bit unsafe. But your child doesn’t want to play in a giant foam pit (at least forever!) He or she is going to want to go on the swings, climb ladders and slide down slides. And they can absolutely do all of those things, just so long as you take the right precautions.
Unsure where to start? Here is how you can make sure your playground equipment is safe for anyone who wants to enjoy it!
1. Keep It Shaded
Plastic and metal—two of the most common building materials for playground equipment—both become very hot when exposed to the sun all day. Make sure all play equipment is properly shaded. Even metal that has had sun exposure for just a few hours can scald one’s skin. Putting an awning over the play equipment will also keep small items like pinecones from falling onto the equipment. If a child goes down a slide, not realizing there are tiny rocks or other sharp objects in it, they can suffer cuts and scrapes.
2. Adhere to Weight Limits
Weight limits are in place for a reason, so respect them. If a child is too light and goes on a swing, they could go flying off. If a child is too heavy and goes on the monkey bars, they could pull the entire structure down.
3. Adhere to Age Restrictions
Age restrictions are also important. Remember that the companies who build play structures conduct extensive research on large sample groups to determine what age children can safely use their equipment. Even if you believe your child is more flexible or more mature than others of the same age, don’t take any risks!
4. Beware of Rust in Rainy Climates
If it rains a lot where you live, check play equipment for rust. If left unattended, rust can weaken the joints that hold equipment together and these can collapse under enough pressure. Once again, covering the play area can keep it from getting wet.
5. Make Sure Everything is Nailed Down
Make sure each piece of equipment is properly nailed down. You may think it’s so heavy that no child could possibly knock it over, but several children may be able to, and severe weather storms could also do some harm.
6. Wrap Swing Chains
Metal swing chains can snag a child’s hair or skin. Wrap these in rubber encasing so your child can safely grab onto them. This is also important to do since these chains can get very hot in the summer.
7. Put Soft Mulch at the End of a Slide
Ideally, your entire play area should sit on soft, bouncy ground to protect children when they fall. The area at the end of the slide should be especially soft. Keep in mind some children like to double up and go down the slide together. But this increases their momentum and causes them to hit the ground even harder than they normally would.
8. Put Anti-Slip Material on Monkey Bars and Ladders
Put anti-slip material on monkey bars, ladder rungs and any other objects your child might grab onto. Remember that kids’ palms get sweaty when they play and they can easily lose their grip.
9. Check for Loose Nails
Periodically check all equipment for loose nails or bits. Even a nail that has come slightly loose can snag onto a child’s clothing, hair or skin, and cause serious injury. Furthermore, the more your child plays on equipment with loose nails, the weaker the equipment becomes.
10. Space Out the Structures
Make sure there is plenty of space between each structure. There should be at least six feet between the swing set and the playhouse and any other structure.
Playground equipment can keep kids entertained for hours, which is a blessing to parents during the summer. Just make sure your equipment doesn’t become a hazard.