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All children love a good backyard play set. Very often it’s a case of the bigger the better.

However, the higher they are the harder they fall.

And while we do not want to be the fun police here at Outdoor Chief, some interesting facts can be found at The Consumer Product Safety Commission.

In this fact sheet they report of the high numbers of children that receive emergency medical care as a result of accidents on home playgrounds and backyard swing sets.

The majority of the injuries (over 80%) are the result of children falling.

Implementing some playground safety

There’s no way we would ever banish play sets from the lives of children, (you can check out our recent review of 5 of the best here), however with a few safety tips you can help ensure that your children do not increase those statistics further.

We have broken these tips into sections. The first looks at the kind of things you should consider when selecting the right backyard swing for your yard.

The second section focuses on swing set installation, this followed by a look at the best practices for when the swings are in use.

The final section will look at how you can maintain the swing set. Keeping the construction in good, safe working condition is an extremely important factor.

So if you are ready? Let’s get to it.

Backyard Swing Safety – Choosing the right set

backyard swing set

  • Although a long winding slide will be appealing, for safety reasons try to keep the maximum length under 10 feet long
  • The deck height of the swing should also be measured. 5 feet is enough for most children as this is the height an average sized adult can still easily assist while standing on the ground.
  • A toddler swing set with enclosed sides should be used for any child under 3. (Don’t make the mistake of thinking your small child will grow into a larger set. Just replace it)
  • Some sets come in different configurations. Whatever set up you choose, you should ensure that there is at least 22 inches of space in between each swing.
  • Avoid cheap models that do not make efforts to round off edges, or recess connectors and bolt heads. Any protrusions can potentially hurt a child.

Backyard Swing Set Installation & Safety

  • The ground should be level where you place the swing set. Any overhanging trees, branches, hedgerows should be either cut back or ideally avoided, (it will just add to the upkeep).
  • Allow enough space between the swing set (at least 3 metres) from any outhouses or buildings. 
  • Also, be aware of clearance issues around some of the more dynamic components. At least 10 feet of clearance should be given either side of the swings.
  • Think about the sun. You don’t want your children exposed if they are playing for long periods of time. If it is possible to position the swing set somewhere it will enjoy at least some shade, the better.
  • Ensure you have created a soft landing for the end of the slide.
  • If you can, create a soft landing for the entire floor span of the equipment. A base of sand, wood mulch or pea gravel are great options. If you have the budget you might also think about a fully rubberized foundation.
  • When installing the swing set one of the most important issues is anchorage. Follow the exact guidelines of the manufacturer, and if in doubt, get a professional in.

How to use a backyard swing set safely

  • Kids will be kids – to let them run all over the swing set without any adult supervision is just asking for trouble.
  • Set up rules that you remind your children of every time the play; (a boundary around the swing when others are on it, or one at a time on the top platform for instance).
  • Also, be wary of older children using the set alongside very young toddlers. The older ones can get excited and basically forget the fragility of the younger ones – it is a bad combination.
  • Know the maximum weight capacity of the set, as well as the advised number of kids allowed at any one time. Stick to these guidelines as best you can.

General Maintenance Safety Tips

Finally, a great way of keeping your children safe when the play is to know that the backyard swing set is in good, working condition.

This of course involves some routine maintenance and checking for any flaws or breakages in the set.

Wood structures should have an annual checking of the connections. The rough areas will need sanding, and to keep the unit strong a re-coating of varnish for weather resistance.

Metal swing sets have their own requirements; rust and corrosion being the main culprits. Keep an eye on the overall condition and don’t be afraid to repaint, grease up or tighten whatever components need attention.

The base of the swing set should be taken care of too. Replenish the substance on a yearly basis, (in the spring as the kids start to use it again after the winter period is the best time to execute the TLC).

Final Words

swing set safety

As long as your children and their friends know how to use the swing set properly, (with adult eyes on standby for when they inevitably get carried away?), the unit is well looked after and a few guidelines are set in place, you will have no problems installing one of these in your backyard.

At the end of the day, your kids will love you for it.

Just be prepared for all the other children in the neighborhood heading over to play.