Swings and slides are staples at the typical neighborhood playground. But what about installing a swing set in your own backyard? If you’re thinking of getting a set for your kids, it’s important to find the right equipment, site it properly and install it safely.
Shop for Safe, Long-Term Use
The Washington Post suggests buying a swing set that a small child can grow into. Look for an option that won’t just offer safety and fun for a small child, but also has features a kid will enjoy for years to come. BobVila.com says this can be achieved by buying a modular set that you can add pieces to as your children get older.
Long-term safety should also be a consideration as you shop. According to Good Housekeeping, swings should be about 8 to 12 inches apart with seats at least 8 inches from the ground. For greater safety, Good Housekeeping advises that you get a play set with soft plastic or rubber swing seats, as well as guard rails on any surfaces taller than 30 inches.
Good Housekeeping also recommends staying away from swing sets with the following attributes:
- Uncovered, movable parts that could catch little fingers
- A play area taller than 4 feet for preschoolers and 6 feet for grade school children
- 3.5- to 9-inch gaps between the equipment and ground that could trap children
- Climbing ropes and monkey bars that could pose tangling or falling hazards
Find the Right Placement
In addition to picking the right type of swing set, it’s important to find the right spot in your yard. Consider these suggestions when choosing where to put your new swing set.
Level ground. Your swing set installation should be in an area that is level, without rocks, tree limbs, sharp plants or other objects that might cause an injury if a child falls on them, according to Good Housekeeping.
A clear area. BobVila.com says there should be room for 6 feet of clearance around the entire playset, and this area should be devoid of any other equipment or hard objects.
Space to climb. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) advises that slides and climbing equipment in particular should have a use zone of at least 6 feet around all sides.
Large swing zone. Swings should have a use zone that extends at least 6 feet from the outside of the support assembly on both sides, says the CPSC, as well as use zones that extend in front of and behind the swing. The front and back zones should extend outward to at least double the distance between the swing hangers and the ground.
Once you have your equipment and location picked out, backyard swing set installation requires a bit more planning. The CPSC says about 60 percent of play set injuries are due to falls. When you put play equipment on surfaces such as cement, asphalt or even grass, you may be putting your child in danger, the CPSC says.
Instead, notes the Washington Post, you should fill the ground below the swing set 6 to 12 inches deep with protective materials. These can be sand, pea gravel or mulch, says the Post — all of which can help soften a fall.
In addition to laying a proper base, Good Housekeeping suggests preparing the swing set for children by smoothing out rough or sharp splinter-causing edges, as well as covering hooks or bolts that stick out from the structure and could get caught in a child’s clothing.
Installing a swing set is a great way to help keep the kids active and happy, but only if it is well-planned and designed for safety. Remember these backyard swing set installation and preparation tips and create a safe, outdoor activity for your kids and all of their friends.