According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (SPSC), more than 600,000 children were injured on playgrounds in 2013. These injuries are not just occurring on public playgrounds. In fact, a recent study in the journal Injury Prevention found that injuries to younger children happened more frequently on backyard playsets and overall, those injuries were more severe. Fortunately, with good installation, basic inspection, and regular upkeep, many of these injuries can be avoided.
Here are 5 simple ways to keep your kids safe on backyard playsets this summer.
1. Use Level Ground
Installing a playset on unlevel ground creates a tipping hazard once kids start climbing or swinging. If you're unsure of the grade of your property or if it's suitable for a playset, consult a professional.
2. Properly Anchor Legs
When installing a new playset, always follow the manufacturer's suggested anchor depth for legs and supports. Anchors which are not deep enough or not set in concrete can easily come free and cause injury. If using an existing playset, consider consulting a professional to make sure the structure is safe.
3. Check for Sharp Hazards
Although most of today's playsets are built using carriage bolts instead of nails, an exposed bolt can still cut a child running, climbing, or swinging by it. Check all surfaces of both wooden and composite playsets for any potentially dangerous exposed fixture and replace it ASAP.
4. Spring Check-Up
Winter can be especially tough on playsets, especially in Florida. Be sure to thoroughly check the structure in the springtime for rot, rust, or any other breakdown in stability.
5. Soft Landings
Use a shock absorbing ground cover under your playset like mulch (natural or artificial) or pine needles. Rubber outdoor mats for playgrounds are also available. Make sure the surface extends at least 6 feet outside of the playset. Replace material each year or as needed if exposed ground appears.
Teach your children to check the temperature of a playset before playing on it. Burns from exposed metal, wood, or even plastic account for a large number of injuries in Florida. Lightly touching each surface before allowing contact with the skin can help prevent these burns.
For More Backyard Safety Tips, read How to Keep Kids Safe Around the Pool This Summer and subscribe to the Southern Oak Blog