Around 200,000 American kids visit hospital emergency rooms each year with injuries sustained on playground equipment [source: CPSC]. Whether you're buying your swingset new or searching for a deal on Craigslist, make sure you know the most common swingset safety issues.
The majority of serious injuries related to swingsets — and even the occasional fatality — involve falls onto hard surfaces. When you are choosing your swingset, think about ways to create a safe play surface. The CPSC recommends building a raised bed consisting of at least 9 inches (22.8 centimeters) of "loose fill material" like wood chips, shredded rubber mulch or sand. Since the fill material will settle over time, it will need to be replenished or replaced to maintain that 9-inch buffer.
All new swingsets sold in the U.S. should conform to safety standards developed by the CPSC. But if you are shopping for a used swingset, please keep these safety criteria in mind [source: CPSC]:
- Look for lightweight swings, because they are less likely to cause injuries by accidentally striking a child in the body or head.
- All platforms or decks higher than 30 inches (76 centimeters) should have a guard rail.
- The space between rails should either be smaller than 3.5 inches (8.9 centimeters) or larger than 9 inches (22.8 centimeters). Otherwise, a child can get his or her head trapped between the rails.
- The rungs on a step or rope ladder or rope net should follow the same size guidelines.
- Make sure that there aren't any sharp edges, protruding bolts or open S hooks that can cause injuries or snag clothing.
- Tire swings that rotate 360 degrees should be in a separate area from the swingset to avoid injuries.
- Don't buy a swingset where swings, gliders or other accessories are suspended from the monkey bars. If children fall from the monkey bars, they can get tangled in the swings below.
For lots more information about backyard fun and child safety, check out the related HowStuffWorks links on the next page.