When you’re finding the right spot to install your kids’ new swing set, it’s easy to be blinded by simple convenience. Creating a playspace for your kids isn’t a simple task however, because there are a lot of safety concerns that parents need to be conscious of before they get started.
Children aren’t safety conscious, and when they’re playing in an uncontrolled environment, things can easily get dangerous. Even well-behaved kids need to go to burn off extra energy now and then, and their play spaces need to minimize the risk of injury, so that they can let loose without needing to worry about getting hurt. By taking the time to consider potential risks ahead of time, parents can make their backyard swing sets much safer, while also making their job in supervising their kids much easier.
Maintain your line of sight
When we’re installing play equipment for our kids, it’s easy to tell ourselves that we’ll keep an eye on our kids when they’re on that climbing rope. When that rope is hidden behind a tree or other obstruction, however, parents often don’t follow through. This is dangerous, especially with particularly young children. Instead, work to make it easy to keep an eye on your kids.
Orient your swing set so that especially those activities that carry the most risk, such as climbing or balancing, are the clearly visible from your normal vantage point. In doing this, you can ensure that you’ll see any risky or dangerous play behavior before it causes problems.
Leave sufficient space
A swing set can’t simply be installed anywhere that it can technically fit in your backyard. Nearby trees, bushes, walls, sheds, flower beds, or debris can constitute a significant hazard, that need to be removed or avoided. Any climbing equipment needs to be far enough removed from other objects that there is no risk of falling (or jumping) kids striking them. Similarly, your swing itself should have a wide open space around it, allowing kids to swing freely without worrying about hitting anything.
Don’t forget the base surface
Falling down is an inevitable part of active play. Whether your kids are learning to climb or balance on the swing set, or they’re just running around and playing, someone will eventually hit the ground hard.
While an unprepared surface like grass is less dangerous than the blacktop found in many old public playgrounds, it isn’t a safe surface to fall on. Instead, the base of your swing set should be filled with a shock absorbent material like gravel, bark, loose sand, or shredded rubber. While these don’t eliminate all risk, they greatly reduce the risk of serious injury for kids falling from heights of up to 10 feet.