Finding a safe place for your child to play can be very hard sometimes. Slides, swings and jungle gyms are a dream come true for most children, but can be a nightmare for parents when they come home with black eyes, bumps, bruises and broken limbs.
Whether you are looking for a play set for home or looking at a public playground, make sure it is age appropriate. If you are looking for equipment to use at home; look for something that is adjustable as your child grows. For your toddlers, look for something that is no higher than six feet at its topmost point. The play platforms should be no higher than four feet from the ground and have guardrails. They should also be easy to get down from. The playground slide should be no more than a 30 degree incline. It should also be at least twenty two inches deep. If the slide is more than four feet high, then it should have raised sides.
Make sure the play equipment is safe. When you are looking for a play system, look for a system that says the manufacturer followed the guidelines of the American Society for the Testing of Materials or of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The equipment should be sturdy in construction. Make sure it is correctly assembled, follow the instructions exactly and make sure it is firmly anchored in concrete. The concrete should be covered in earth or a soft padding. The play system should be set at least six feet from fences or walls.
You should avoid swings with S-like hooks; these can pop out easily with vigorous swinging. The climbing rope should be anchored at both ends. The swings should be a bucket type, of soft shock absorbing materials. To prevent head injuries the swings should be twenty four inches apart and thirty inches form the support posts. All of the rings and other openings should be designed to prevent head entrapment. All of the metal should be painted or treated to avoid rusting. If there is any wood, it should also be treated to prevent rotting. The treatment used should be with shellac paint because some wood treatment is made with arsenic-based material.
The playground equipment should be in good repair and checked regularly for broken or missing parts. If you are at a park and see it in a poor condition, you should report it to the local parks department. You should avoid the playground until it is fixed.
The surfaces under the playground should be soft. Remove all rocks and tree roots. You can either put down play sand, wood chips, sawdust, bark or other shock absorbing material. Do not rely on your grassy yard because it still could be dangerous, even fatal. Injuries are possible on this surface even if the fall is from a foot above. The shock absorbing material should extend six feet from the play area.
Make sure that your toddler isn’t wearing a cape, floppy sleeves, flowing clothes or any other clothing that can be entangled in the equipment. This can cause a strangulation hazard. Any play equipment is only as safe the supervision a child playing on it gets.
Your Independent Baby and Toddler guide.
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