That sheer joy that is characteristically felt by children and their adult companions alike on play-sets during celebrated outdoor time remains timeless, but not priceless. Concerns over safety and the possibility of injury abound, often unfairly sabotaging parents with worry and unease.
To directly dispel those play-set what-if’s and unknowns, we have compiled ten interesting facts which, when considered during your child’s play time, aim to lessen apprehension and increase overall fun-factor.
1. Play-Sets Require Regular Maintenance. Like a car and home air-duct filters, play-sets come with time-sensitive maintenance recommendations to sustain optimum safety and operation. Regularly check hardware for corrosion; ladders, swing seats, ropes and slides for possible deterioration. The protective coating may require annual re-sealing.
2. Play-Sets Are Chemically Coated. Older, traditional sealing products contain alarming levels of arsenic. Newer coating treatments are more child-friendly but remain chemical-based. Check ingredient lists when adhering to maintenance recommendations and choose accordingly.
In 2004 the US Environmental Agency banned the use of CCA — chromatid copper arsenate. Dispose of any play-set and sealant product manufactured before then.
3. Play-Sets Have Weight and Occupancy Limits. Think about the interconnected nature of play-set construction, and you’ll understand why it’s an absolute necessity to identify and follow manufacturer limits. Regardless of sound structural assembly, any play set can collapse under undue strain.
4. Play-Sets Come with Dress-Codes. Clothing with draw strings, slippery shoes, ponchos and neck scarves pose serious threat of injury. So do bicycle helmets. Anything that can latch on to equipment and hold a child in motion, especially around the neck, should be avoided at all cost.
5. Play-Set Use Is Not A Contact Sport. Playing with other kids and doing so cooperatively is the goal here. Avoidance of accidental collision, stability imbalance and hurtful physical contact requires mindful oversight of a few simple rules:
- Use Equipment Properly.
- Take Your Turn.
- Walk Around Swings and Slide, Never in Front Of.
- Remember That Little Kids Play Differently Than Big Kids.
- Use Both Hands.
- Do Not Push or Shove.
6. Play-Set Supervision IS A Spectator Sport. Are you considering putting a play-set in your yard? Choose a location where it can be seen clearly from the house. If you must retrieve something from inside momentarily, you will still be able to monitor the children.
If you are at a public playground, settle your things into a spot where you can maintain appropriate sight lines. Plan to keep moving, however, because your children are! Try to keep conversation with other adults to a minimum, and temporarily forget the nicety of maintaining eye contact. Good playground etiquette allows for adult eyes to focus exclusively on their children.
If you have brought a group, you cannot be in several places at once. Assemble a buddy system plan, where children pair up and are responsible for keeping tabs on one another. Try to match an older child with a younger one.
Consider putting your cell phone away. You deserve an off-grid break just as much as your children deserve your full attention.
7. Play-Set Equipment Fulfills a Vital Role in Injury Prevention. Most play-set injuries occur on swings and climbing equipment. Avoid seats with sharp edges and chains that pinch. Keep an eye out for frayed ropes and wooden slides which can cause splinters. Look for dimpled or ridged texture on slip-resistant handrails, ladders and bar for firm gripping. Playground safety features aid your supervisory role while securing the positive experience of your child.
8. Play-sets Get Hot. The sun can heat standing metal up to 130 degrees, hot enough to cause second-degree burns. Children are especially susceptible because their skin is thinner and more delicate than that of an adult. Check play-set equipment the same way you would a stove top before your child comes in contact.
9. Play-sets Can Be Cost-Effective. Are the price tags at your local play-set dealership intimidating? Do they even include installation? Consider play-set kit purchase or even DIY options. Your child’s input can be invaluable in the plan and design phase, and you might even receive an enthusiastic hand or two during assembly!
10. Play-sets Are Durable. Play-sets maintained according to guidelines and utilized with care enjoy a lifespan of 7-10 years. Most, if not all, of your child’s active years before upper-level organized school sports.
Go ahead, watch with regard and enjoy, these play-set years are precious indeed!