Monday, March 5, 2007

The climbing frame comes of age in the UK

Children love to play outdoors, especially on swings and Wooden Climbing Frames. Playground accidents are one of the leading causes of injuries in children and small children under five are at an even greater risk. Ensuring the safety of your backyard and your play equipment is vital to your child�s well-being.

Most playground injuries happen when a child falls from the top of a slide or play set. A shock absorbing material should be used to build a protective surface at least six feet around the play area. Mulch or rubber chips are common materials used in playground surfaces. When using natural materials like sand or wood chips, choose types that have been filtered to remove glass, metal, or other harmful objects.

Accidents caused by swings are another leading cause of childhood injuries. Swings should be attached to a lightweight frame that is firmly anchored into the ground. The support beams for the swings should be sturdy enough to hold the swings while they are in use. Sometimes, the frame may need to be set in cement to avoid tipping the play set when the swings are used.

The swings themselves should have plenty of space between each other and the support frame. The play area should be planned to allow ample room for children to move around the play set without the risk of being hit by a child who is swinging. Select swings that are appropriate for the age of your child. It is recommended that children under age five, or up to 50 pounds, play on swings that include safety harnesses and raised backs.

Platforms, ladders, and other climbing features can pose safety hazards to children as well. Forts or tree houses are fun additions to children�s outdoor play sets, but should include sturdy railing all the way around to prevent falls. Space between railings must be less than 3.5 inches or more than 9 inches apart so hands, feet, and heads can not become trapped. Ladder rungs should follow these safety measurements too.

Ladders, rock walls, and other climbing features are safest when they are attached to the unit at an angle. Ladders that form a 90 degree angle with the ground create a bigger risk of falls, while a softer angle makes climbing much easier. Playground slides are best when constructed of durable plastic at least a quarter of an inch thick. Metal slides retain heat and can cause burns on little legs and hands.

Choose swings that attach to the play set with strong safety chain rather than fiber ropes to extend durability. Any ropes attached to the play set that are intended for climbing should be at least one inch thick and should be regularly inspected for fraying.

The play sets available from Adventure Playsets meet and exceed the recommended safety guidelines. Adventure Playsets use strong cedar 4 x 4 posts that are treated with a smooth, safe polyethylene coating. All components are attached with large bolts that will sit flush with the wood when properly installed.

Playground safety is most influenced by supervision and regular inspection of equipment. Make routine checks of the wood for cracks or signs of decay. Inspect hardware for looseness or protruding objects that may snag or scratch. Most importantly, establish playground safety guidelines for your children and make sure they are closely followed.

Gary Clay is an expert on swingsets and owner of stylish kids shop MonkeyShine