From Dean Dowd on October 28, 2008 in General Remodel
Even in our own backyards, playground injuries are a leading cause of trips to the hospital for children. It is essential that playground equipment be installed safely and regularly inspected and maintained so that it stays that way. Providing a safe home playground for kids goes beyond just anchoring the equipment properly. Here are some excellent tips for keeping your children safe at play and your mind at ease:
- Use a safe, level play area. Choosing the childrens play area is the first step. The ground should be level and far from trees, stumps, rocks, and other obstacles that a child could run, fall, or trip into.
- Create a safe surface for play. Even your grass-covered lawn can be a hard surface to fall upon. Be sure to choose a soft surface using wood chips, mulch, play sand, pea gravel, or safety-tested rubber mats will ensure a soft landing. This surface layer should be 12 inches deep and regularly combed, raked, cleared of any unwanted debris. The play surface should stretch at least six feet in all directions from playground equipment.
- Safely anchor the equipment. When it comes to anchoring, always follow the manufacturers instructions. This may entail concrete. If it does, make sure that the hardened concrete is buried well below the play surface and that it remains there. If other anchor systems are used, say ones that include stakes or rope, make sure the anchoring equipment is buried, cordoned off, or otherwise covered to prevent tripping and other injuries.
- Check hardware regularly for any damage. Upon installation, tighten bolts and washers well and put caps on protruding bolt ends. Regularly check to make sure bolts arent coming loose. S-hooks and other such hardware can stretch and bend over time and stress. These too will need regular inspection.
- Check the overall safety of equipment. Manufacturers have strict rules they must follow, so equipment should come to you with the children in mind. However, that is no reason not to test and install guardrails on platforms and make sure that there arent places where your child could easily get trapped.
- No substitutions, no additions. Do not allow any ropes, clotheslines, jump ropes or other such items to be attached to the playground equipment. Dont jury-rig repairs. If there is a problem, call the manufacturer and get it taken care of before the kids get to play anymore.
- Maintenance and supervision. Just because it is in your backyard does not make your playground equipment any safer than the stuff at the schoolyard. I cant reiterate enough the need for regular maintenance and inspection. Also, keep an eye on the kids just as you would if they were playing in the equipment down the road.
- Educate the children about playground safety. Kids are going to fall; thats just how we learn some of our greatest lessons, but you can save them, and yourself, some pain and worry by making sure they understand the rules of the playground. Then its off to have fun!