Thursday, 10 July, 2008 1:05 AM
Danger in the
Backyard: Angie's List tips to avoid it
courtesy of wotan.liu.edu
safe playground for kids in the backyard.
predict 200,000 kids will get hurt this year because of run-ins
with backyard playground equipment.
Angie’s List, the nation’s leading consumer ratings
service, polled its members nationwide and found the respondents
who recently purchased a play set spent more than $1,000 in backyard
fun for their kids. If you’re contemplating a similar purchase,
you might want to add safety considerations to your list of swings,
slides, ladders and sand boxes.
“Parents need to step back before rushing out to buy playground
equipment,” said Angie Hicks, founder of Angie’s List.
“Before you head to the store, take a critical look at your
yard. You need a level area that will drain well. If you don’t
have that, you may need to call in some professional help before
you even start shopping for equipment. If you have shade, put the
play set there as an easy way to keep your kids shielded from the
sun. If you have a fence, be sure you leave enough room so your
little swingers don’t crash into it.”
“Even if your yard is flat as a pancake, amply shaded and
you have a spot with full fence clearance, you should give serious
thought to finding a professional installer,” Hicks said.
“More than half of our members who recently purchased playground
equipment reported that they put it together themselves. About one-quarter
of them admit that it was a bad idea; the project was too complicated;
and they wouldn’t recommend that other parents try to do it.”
“There’s no shame in needing help to install this equipment,”
Hicks said. “It’s complicated, and you’ll put
your child in danger if it’s not installed correctly. Also,
be sure the equipment is free of poisons like lead paint or arsenic.”
List checklist for a safe backyard playground:
up your yard: Your yard will determine the type of playground
equipment you choose. Avoid sloping areas to help prevent
equipment from tipping over. Select an area that is away
from trees, wires, etc. Position the equipment away from
the equipment: Check the stability of the equipment by shaking
it once it’s installed. Inspect the structure for
sharp edges and rough wood and be sure all “S”-hooks”
are closed. To prevent strangulation, do not attach a rope
to the set. Choose equipment that meets the U.S. Consumer
Product Safety Commission guidelines.
a soft cushion: Reduce injuries from falls by placing wood
chips, mulch or shredded rubber underneath the equipment.
You’ll need a lot – 9 to 11-inches deep is the
recommended amount. You’ll need to monitor the depth
throughout the summer and perhaps add more.
open spaces that could trap children: Openings in guardrails
or between ladder rungs should measure less than 3.5 inches
or more than 9 inches.
the materials: Metal sets should be galvanized, painted
using lead-free paint, or treated to prevent rusting. Wood
sets should be arsenic free and treated to resist rotting
and insects – choose redwood and cedar – they
are also good at repelling insects and are less likely to
checkup: Over time, weather can affect the condition of
the set. Check regularly for signs of wear and tear and
broken or missing components.
have adult supervision: Age appropriate equipment won’t
be enough to prevent all injuries. An adult should be on-hand
to watch children while at play.
in the know: Check regularly for recalls involving playground
products. A good resource: the U.S. Consumer Product Safety
*1,099 Angie’s List members took our poll. Responses are representative
of Angie’s List members, but not the general public.