Your backyard playground is an area your children should love and enjoy, but they’ll have a harder time doing so if the playground isn’t safe and secure. If you’re thinking of building a new backyard playground, keep the following safety tips in mind:
Purchase Age-Appropriate Playground Equipment
It might seem more economical to find a playset that your child can grow into, but oversized playground equipment can seriously injure younger children. In general, playgrounds are made for one of three age groups: infants and toddlers, kids ages 2-5, and kids ages 5-12. Only buy playground equipment appropriate for your child’s current age group.
If your backyard playground will include ramps, platforms, or other elevated surfaces, install protective barriers and guardrails so children can’t fall off the playset.
Install the Equipment Correctly
Install the playground equipment on level ground and secure it to prevent tipping. Equipment should be at least six feet away from fences, trees, walls, and other obstacles that could injure a child if he or she jumps or falls.
Set Up and Check Equipment with Moving Parts
Seesaws, swings, and other structures with moving parts should be separate from the rest of the playground. Only have two swings per bay with the swings at least 24 inches apart. Keep a full 30 inches between the support frame and swing. Toddler swings should have their own bay.
Similarly, check seesaws and other equipment with moving parts for pinch points. Small hands and fingers could get caught in between moving pieces of equipment.
Pay Attention to the Temperature
Always check the playground equipment’s temperature to make sure it’s comfortable for use. Slides are especially susceptible to absorbing heat. Both metal and plastic slides can get extremely hot in the summertime and could burn the backs of children’s legs.
Choose the Right Playground Surface
Hard surfaces like asphalt, concrete, and blacktop are dangerous for young kids, as are surfaces like soil, grass, and packed earth. Since these surfaces wear down easily, they lose their ability to cushion falls. Instead, use loosely packed wood chips, sand, pea gravel, mulch, or shredded rubber. Playgrounds with surfacing mats made of safety-tested rubber or rubber-like materials are also ideal.
Avoid Dangerous Equipment
Equipment like glider swings, swinging ropes, animal figure swings, monkey bars, exercise rings, trapeze bars, and trampolines look fun, but they can all cause serious injuries. Safe playsets shouldn’t have any ropes, clotheslines, jump ropes, or
pet leashes attached to them—these items pose a strangulation hazard.
Implementing these tips can help your backyard playground area be a safe, fun environment for you and your children. You’ll be able to rest easy knowing you’ve done everything in your power to make their playset secure. If you have additional tips for backyard playground safety, please share them in the comments!