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<< News >>

National News

Thursday, 10 July, 2008 1:05 AM

Danger in the Backyard: Angie's List tips to avoid it

Photo courtesy of wotan.liu.edu

A safe playground for kids in the backyard.

 

Experts 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.”

Angie’s List checklist for a safe backyard playground:

  • Size 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 direct sunlight.
  • Test 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.
  • Install 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.
  • Check 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.
  • Consider 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 splinter.
  • Playground checkup: Over time, weather can affect the condition of the set. Check regularly for signs of wear and tear and broken or missing components.
  • Always 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.
  • Be in the know: Check regularly for recalls involving playground products. A good resource: the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (www.cpsc.gov).



*1,099 Angie’s List members took our poll. Responses are representative of Angie’s List members, but not the general public.

Source: Angie's List

 

 

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