Backyard Discovery Blog
- Ten Reasons You Might Need To Get A Shed 24.01.2017
- Teaching kids to prevent playground injuries 03.10.2016
9 Safety Tips for Your Swing Set Kits
Now I know a lot of people turn off when they see the term “safety”. That’s why some airlines turn their air safety videos into mini feature films. But when it comes to your kids, safety is of paramount importance. We can’t help but worry about our kids, and feel their pain whenever they have an accident.
So it’s inevitable, that when you decide to buy a swing set kit for your kids, you are going to want to ensure that everything is put together safely and that the kids continue to use the swing set kit as safely as possible.
I suppose I had better clarify in case anybody is wondering, that when I refer to swingset "kit" here I'm just meaning a play set that comes in one or more boxes, which needs to be assembled on site. Our kits contain all of the necessary parts. You simply need to provide any necessary tools for assembly, a suitable location for your swing set and then prepare a soft level surface on which to position it.
There are a few things that I’ve discovered that can help you keep your little ones safe, without you needing to ruin their fun for them.
1. Have the Right Swings for the Age of Your Kids
The heart of (most) swing sets is, of course, the swings - otherwise, you’d simply have a fort or clubhouse or slide. I know you may be tempted to buy a set that ages with your kids, perhaps saving some money in the process, but that may not be such a good idea if you still have young kids.
If you still have infants or toddlers, you should consider adding an infant seat to your set. In the case of our Backyard Discovery and Backyard Odyssey swing sets, you can add a 2-in-1 Safe T-Swing to your set. This can operate as either an infant swing (which safely holds your infant in place), or when your child grows you can convert it into a toddler swing (which is like a sturdy booster seat on a swing for your toddler). You want to make sure that your infant/toddler swing is set high enough so that the child can’t get onto it without help.
You should also adjust the height of your belt swings, to match the heights of your growing kids. They do not need to have them at the same height. Just make sure that even the lowest swings are at least eight inches above the ground at their lowest point.
2. Don’t Buy a Swing Set That is Too Tall for the Height of Your Kids
There is quite a range of different swing sets that come in varying heights. Although you might be tempted to buy the best you can afford now, hoping that it will last all your children’s entire childhood, that is not necessarily the safest option.
If the kids are still young, it is probably best to buy one of the smaller sets and then upgrade to a better, more elaborate set when they are sufficiently tall to be able to reach the upper level safely.
Obviously, there is a relationship between the height of your set and the length of slides. You need to consider the age and height of your kids when you decide the length of the slides for the play set you choose. This is particularly important for the younger, less confident kid, who needs mom or dad to stand beside a slide as they descend it.
Another thing that you should consider is that you should probably not have components in your swing set which your kids will not be able to use for a couple of years. You should perhaps avoid buying a playset with a rock wall or monkey bars in just yet if your kids are still toddlers.
3. Place Your Swing Set on a Soft Surface
I’ve already written about how important it is to place your swing set kit on a soft surface, and given some suggestions for what you could use. Kids are adventurous. My son constantly squirms if he has to keep still and loves climbing. Most injuries around swing sets come from falls. By having a soft surface, a fall does not have to result in tears. I’ve seen Luka jump from quite high, and simply run away from where he landed, thanks to the soft surface we have underneath our swing set.
Whatever you do, do not simply plonk your new swing set onto concrete or asphalt. If you do, you can expect to end up on Christian name terms with the local paramedics. Although quite a few people place their swing set kits on grass, the ground can quickly become hard with wear, and less able to absorb the shock of a small body falling onto it.
Take a look at the better, safer alternatives for your undercover, including pea gravel, mulch, rubber mulch, even fancy rubber tiles.
4. Anchor Your Equipment Well
When you set up your play equipment, make sure that you securely everything to the ground. The last thing you need is for an overly boisterous group of kids to upend your play equipment.
If you install your swing set yourself, make certain that you follow the instructions about how to anchor your set.
I can assure you that our installers are scrupulous about correctly anchoring the sets they put into position.
5. Set Up Your Swing Set on Level Ground
Of course, it is far easier to ensure that your play equipment is stable if you place your swing set on level ground first. You will need to find either an area of level ground for your set or you may need to excavate space for your playset before you can install it.
You also need to make sure that you don’t have obstructions, such as tree roots or rocks in the middle of your swing set area. I would hate little Luka to fall over and land face-first on a tree root, knowing I could have avoided the injury if I had prepared the site better.
6. Set up Safety Rules That Your Kids Know and Follow
It is a really good idea to teach your kids some common sense rules before you allow them to go on their new play equipment. In particular, they need to be aware of moving swings. I have heard too many tears, as a result of kids standing within the swing zone of a moving swing, and being kicked by an over-exuberant friend.
They also need to learn the importance of not twisting the swing ropes and letting them go, as well as not showing off when they are on the high parts of the forts, clubhouses and slides. The kids need to know not to stand on swings (otherwise, they are likely to learn the hard way how bad an idea that is). Similarly, they need to realize that head-first sliding can end very painfully, too.
Stress to the kids that a common cause of accidents is walking up a slide. Remind them that in Snakes and Ladders you slide down the snake, and climb the ladder. Similarly, in their play set, they should learn to climb the ladder and come down the slide, not vice versa.
7. Don’t Wear Loose Clothing on a Swing Set
This is one of those rules you need to drum into the kids (before somebody learns the hard way). Emphasize to them what could happen if they were to catch their clothing on some part of the equipment. It wouldn’t be fun trying to go down the slide if your scarf catches on a pole. Or, even worse, playing on the monkey bars if you have a ring on that gets caught on a bar.
8. Do Not Allow Too Many Children on the Equipment at Once
Kids can sometimes be like sheep. One decides to do something and before long the rest stampede to follow the leader.
If you have a tribe of kids at home, you do need to make sure that not too many try to get on the swing set at once.
Obviously, the number that can use it at once will depend on the size of the equipment you have.
Each play set is designed for a maximum number of users. To be more precise, each playset has a weight limit for its upper floor. Make certain that you know the limit for yours, and stop those “child stampedes” before too many get on the playset.
9. Supervise Your Kids
Alright, I don’t want to sound like I’m preaching, but it goes without saying that you need to supervise your kids if they are using the equipment. The younger your kids are, the more active your supervision needs to be. This is particularly the case with infants and toddlers, who need your full attention.
If your kids are older, you may not need to be as active in your supervision. However, it helps if you position your swingset in a position where you can keep an eye on them, perhaps outside the kitchen window.
While kids aged from three to ten will enjoy playing on the swing set, it is probably not a good idea to have kids covering the whole age range on the set at the same time. The last thing you need is your three-year-old trying to copy a ten-year-old daredevil.
Of course, you care for your kids. It is not hard to provide them with a fun outdoor play environment, with a swing set kit which is both safe and still enjoyable for the youngsters. I know that by setting up a safe environment for Luka’s swingset, and teaching him a few rules, I have given myself huge peace of mind. You too can relatively easily ensure that your kids play safely.