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 below.
Author's Note: How to Choose the Right Swingset for Your Kids
I still remember the day we bought our daughter her very first piece of playground equipment. She was only 18 months old, but judging by the increasingly taller pieces of furniture she summited in our living room, she showed great promise as a competitive alpinist. We sought out a simple climbing gym with a slide where she could hone her daredevil skills. I was thinking 50 bucks, tops. Nearly $300 later, we were driving home from the toy store with a box strapped to the top of the car that was nearly as big as the car itself. After hours of setup, I encircled the thing with rubber mats and let her at it. She was in heaven. Our daughter recently turned 8, and I don't think I've given her anything that brought her more happiness than that giant plastic play set. As it did for toddlers number two and three.
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- Erickson, Amanda. "The Politics of Playgrounds, A History." The Atlantic. March 14, 2012. (June 7, 2013) http://www.theatlanticcities.com/arts-and-lifestyle/2012/03/politics-playgrounds-history/1480/
- Gleisner, Tina. "Swing Sets: Research Before You Buy." Online Community of Women Home Owners. (June 7, 2013) http://www.hometips4women.com/swing-sets-research-before-you-buy
- Martinez, Gladys; Daniels, Kimberly; and Chandra, Anjani; "Fertility of Men and Women Aged 15–44 Years in the United States: National Survey of Family Growth, 2006–2010." National Health Statistics Reports — Center for Disease Control. April 12, 2012. (June 7, 2013) http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr051.pdf
- Raloff, Janet. "Danger on Deck?" Science News Online. Jan. 31, 2004. (June 13, 2013) http://www.cpsc.gov//PageFiles/122146/324.pdf
- U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. "Is Your Home Playground a Safe Place to Play?" (June 7, 2013) http://www.cpsc.gov//PageFiles/122140/pg1.pdf
- U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. "Outdoor Home Playground Safety Handbook." 2005. (June 7, 2013) http://www.cpsc.gov//PageFiles/122146/324.pdf
- U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. "Troxel Recalls Flexible Flyer Swing Sets Due to Fall Hazard." July 11, 2012. (June 7, 2013) http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/2012/Troxel-Recalls-Flexible-Flyer-Swing-Sets-Due-to-Fall-Hazard1/