Follow these safety tips for your family to have a joyful time playing on their swing set and to help your family "play it safe" this summer.
Backyard Swing Set Installation and Surroundings Safety Tips:
- Read and follow the manufacturer's directions when setting up play set equipment. Be sure your child's weight and age fall within the manufacturers recommended limits for the equipment.
- Make sure your backyard is large enough for playground equipment. The site must also provide good visibility and security. Before setting up equipment, look out for obstacles, such as the garage, tree branches, utility poles and wires.
- Set the backyard swing set up in a level location, away from overhanging objects that can be reached from the tower of the play structure.
- If possible, set swing set up in a shaded area to avoid overheating of metal or plastic parts.
- As beneficial as the shade of a tree can be, low-hanging branches can be an invitation to the climber in the crowd. Cut any low-hanging or dead branches that may be too inviting or may come loose and fall on a child.
- Set toddler swings at least 24 inches above the ground so they cannot swing themselves.
- Ensure a minimum of 6 feet of clearance around all parts of a play structure, and at least 10 feet of clearance behind and in front of the swings.
- Provide a soft landing area at the base of the slide.
- Create a play area base of sand, pea gravel, mulch, or rubberized surface at least six feet in all directions, to prevent serious injuries should a child fall.
- Pay close attention to the anchor instructions and equipment provided by the manufacturer. Ensure all anchors are recessed and do not pose a tripping or gouging hazard.
Backyard Swing set Usage Safety Tips:
- Adults should monitor play on the structure at all times.
- Follow manufacturers directions in limiting the maximum number of children and weight the equipment can support. As a general rule, children of widely varying ages should not play on the backyard swing set at the same time.
- Be sure your swing set is age appropriate. A good rule of thumb: If you have to lift your child up to reach it, it is not age appropriate.
- Carefully inspect backyard playground equipment. Make sure equipment is anchored safely in the ground, all equipment pieces are in good working order, S-hooks are entirely closed and bolts are not protruding.
- Check for spaces that could trap children, such as openings in guardrails or between ladder rungs. These spaces should measure less than 3.5 inches or more than 9 inches.
- Never attach ropes, jump ropes, clotheslines, pet leashes or cords of any kind to play set equipment. If used improperly, they can be potential strangulation hazards.
- Check for pinch or crush points, there should be no exposed moving parts which may present a pinching or crushing hazard.
- Do a sandbox check. Before letting your child dig in, rake through the sand to check for debris or sharp objects. Also, inspect for any animal contamination or insect problems.
- Remove hoods or drawstrings that can get caught on equipment.
- No toys, bicycles or other implements of entertainment should be allowed within close proximity of the backyard swing set. These could create a tripping hazard for the children getting off and on the swing set.
- Set up safety rules for using the backyard swing set, and enforce them with your children.
- Teach your child or children the correct behavior when using a swing set. Make sure children do not jump from platforms or swings. One child at a time should be in each swing seat, and they should not twist the chains or swing side-ways. They should never walk in front of swings or slides that are in use. Attached ladders are the only thing that should be climbed, never swings, chains, or rails. Slides should be used feet first only; do not allow your children to climb up them.
Maintenance Safety Tips:
- Backyard swing sets require regular maintenance. Inspect protective surfacing especially mulch, and maintain the proper depth. Replenish the play area base annually. Mulch bases in particular lose much of their material over the winter. Sand bases can become compacted and must be replenished every few years with new material. If any of the following conditions are noted, they should be removed, corrected or repaired immediately to prevent injuries:
- Hardware is loose or worn, or that has protrusions or projections. Note: A visual check can miss loose hardware. Use a wrench and try to turn each nut and bolt to check for tightness.
- Exposed equipment footings.
- Scattered debris, litter, rocks, or tree roots. Check that all edges are rounded and smooth.
- Rust, burs and chipped paint on metal components.
- Splinters, large cracks, and decayed wood components.
- Deterioration and corrosion on structural components which connect to the ground.
- Missing or damaged equipment components, such as handholds, guardrails, swing seats.
Click here to read the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Outdoor Home Playground Safety Handbook
National Safety Council's Top 10 Checklist for Playground Safety click here to read complete guidelines