Backyard play sets have come a long way from the hard metal *swing sets* most of us grew up with, a few swings, some bars to climb on and that was about it. Today we have play sets that have forts, climbing walls, picnic tables, slides and so much more.
If you are buying a backyard play set, you should consider choosing one made from higher quality materials with safety features. Sure, there are cheaper sets available on line and in some stores, but you have to remember you are putting your child’s health and safety in the *hands* of some rather cheap and potentially nasty play sets. Is a broken bone worth saving a few dollars?
- Cover the ground. Thousands of children are injured each year on public and private park playground equipment. Most of those injuries are from falls onto ground that has not been covered with a protective surface. You should cover the ground with sand or pea gravel, rubberised mulch or bark to help cushion a fall.
- Watch out for any *entrapment* areas. Avoid any climbing nets that have the potential to trap a child.
- Inspect the play set regularly. Check that there are no missing parts, rotten wood, peeling paint or corroded metal. You should also check slides before children use them to make sure they are not too hot.
- Go with the pros. To make sure your play set has been put together properly and its safe to use always let professionals assemble and install it, especially if you have chosen a more complicated play set.
- If there is any wood on a play set you have chosen, clean and reseal the wood every few years, give the play set a light power wash and then apply a coat of sealant to protect the wood.
- Check and tighten any bolts. Wood expands and contracts with changes in the temperature, so, at the beginning of spring and once a month during summer check all the bolts and other pieces to make sure they are nice and tight.
- Think about the future. Rather than buying a play set that will suit the needs of your child now, consider how your child will grow and change over the coming years, so buy something that he or she will be able to use for a long time. Don’t forget you can always add extra modules as your child grows to encourage other activities and areas of fitness
- Classics really never go out of style. Start with a traditional style of play set that has a slide, some bars to hang from, and something to climb on. Kids in general like things whatever they are, so you know they are going to be happy with the module you choose for them. This means they will still be happy and entertained with *the basics* – you don’t need to buy something that would be better suited in a park, that has all the *bells and whistles*.
- Before making a purchase, you need to decide where it is you want your play set to go. You need a flat, open area that gives your child plenty of room to slide, swing and run around, measure the area you have available first then then using those dimensions you can choose the play set that fits perfectly into the space available.
- Capacity – how many children do you have in your family? Do your children invite friends over to play? Select a playset that can provide enough space and features to play safely whether there is one child playing or a dozen.
- What are the ages of your children, or the children who will be using the play set? You want to choose a play set that is suitable for the youngest child as well as the oldest. Access must be available for small children, while the height of monkey bars etc must be high enough for the oldest child. There is nothing worse than kids having to miss out because the play set isn’t suitable for their age.