10 Backyard Playset Safety Tips

jungle gym
Flickr photo by edenpictures
We're moving into a home that has a playset (swings, slide, monkey bars, and even a climbing wall) in our backyard. Since I didn't buy it or install it, I want to be sure that it's safe for my 2-year-old -- I've had to pry her off it every time we stop by the house.

John Drengenberg, the Director of Consumer Safety at Underwriters Laboratories, shares these safety precautions:

  1. Make sure your backyard is large enough for playground equipment. The site must also provide good visibility and security. Watch out for obstacles, such as the garage, tree branches, utility poles, and wires, located near the playground site before setting up equipment.
  2. Read and follow the manufacturer's directions when setting up equipment. Be sure your child's weight and age fall within the manufacturer's recommended limits for the equipment.
  3. Install protective surfacing -- like rubber tiles or poured-in-place surfaces -- at least 6 feet in all directions from play equipment. 
  4. Carefully inspect backyard swing sets and jungle gyms before inviting neighborhood kids over. 
  5. Make sure equipment is anchored safely in the ground, all equipment pieces are in good working order, S-hooks are entirely closed, and bolts aren't protruding.
  6. Check for spaces that could trap children, like openings in guardrails or between ladder rungs. These spaces should measure less than 3.5 inches or more than 9 inches.
  7. Always supervise children on play equipment to make sure they're safe.
  8. Never attach ropes, jump ropes, clotheslines, pet leashes, or cords of any kind to play equipment as they're a strangulation hazard.
  9. Watch for potential trip hazards such as rocks, tree stumps, and concrete footings.
  10. Dress your child appropriately -- clothing with hoods or drawstrings can cause strangulation.

Do you have a backyard playset?

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