With winter coming to an end this month – believe it or not, March 20 is the first day of spring – many parents are anxiously awaiting outdoor fun which includes BBQ’s and the children playing for endless hours on the backyard playground. Though many make the inside of their homes childproof and safe, some tend to overlook making the backyard just as safe. The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates there are about 51,000 emergency visits each year due to home playground equipment accidents. To help you out, we have provided a few basic safety guidelines courtesy of the Consumer Safety Product Commission’s Home Playground Safety Tips.
- Make sure playground set is installed properly. We know this seems self-explanatory but unfortunately instructions are not always followed. Make sure that whoever is building the playground set follows the manufacturer’s instructions carefully – another option is hiring a professional installer to do the job.
- Look for protruding hardware or objects. Nails, hooks, ends of bolts, or sharp points or edges can be quite dangerous. Have them covered or removed to avoid injuries.
- Don’t use pressure-treated wood. Most manufacturers stopped using this wood in 2004 but some older playgrounds may still have this material. Its danger comes from the fact that arsenic is exposed from pressure-treated wood increasing one’s risk of certain types of cancer.
- Don’t attach ropes, jump ropes, pet leashes, etc. They are incredibly dangerous and can cause strangulation.
- Install/maintain shock-absorbing ground cover. The play area should be a minimum of 6 feet in all directions around the playground equipment and should have a minimum of 7 inches of “soft” surface which can be double shredded bark mulch, wood chips, or fine sand, just to name a few. It is important and necessary to replenish the ground cover of the play area every year after winter ends.
- Avoid large spaces that could trap small children. There are specific measurements to abide by when installing guardrails and between ladder rungs so children don’t get trapped or stuck in these places.
- Guardrails. Make sure all walkways, platforms, and ramps have guardrails to avoid children falling out.
- Check measurements of slides and platforms. Again, specific measurements are required so make sure to abide by all safety requirements to keep your children safe from dangerous heights and falls.
- Continuously check all areas of the playground equipment. Make sure everything is solid, secure, and that the material is in good condition.
- Supervise, supervise, & supervise! An adult should supervise the children playing on the equipment to make sure all features of the equipment are being utilized safely, especially when little ones are present.
We hope these recommendations help you avoid any unnecessary injuries for your child and his or her playmates. Of course, one can never prevent all accidents from occurring but they can definitely be lessened by following these safety guidelines.