Maybe you moved into a new home with young kids, or simply want to dedicate a space in your garden or yard for a playground. Whatever your reasons may be, you will need to ask yourself five important questions before making that purchase. These questions include all equipment involved, correct measurements, spatial and safety considerations, and other issues.
Will if fit our space?
Be realistic and practical about where you will be putting what (even if you have fantasies of a play space in your home that rivals the grandeur of a theme park). You will need to tailor your playset to the size of your yard or any location you plan to put up a playground. Take measurements before buying equipment, and allow some room to change or expand things as your children grow. You will need a cleared area that extends six feet from all sides of your playground. Swings need cleared space at least twice the height of their beams.
Even if you don’t have much space, innovation and creativity can be your tools. Remember the days when a rubber tire on ropes tied to a tree branch was enough to keep kids happy in the spring and summer?
Is it age-appropriate?
Playground equipment fall under three age groups: “toddlers” (6 months-2 years), “preschool” (2 years-5 years), and “school age” (5 years-12 years). Playground manufacturers are supposed to design their sets and equipment with these groups’ physical, intellectual, and social skills in mind. Doing this prevents potential injuries resulting from kids playing on equipment not meant for their age group.
Consult manufacturers’ guides for the correct age group. Toddler sets typically include full bucket seat swings, spring rockers. single-file step ladders, ramps, and climbing equipment that are no more than 32 inches high. Preschoolers can have merry-go-rounds, full bucket seat swings, rung ladders, and horizontal ladders less than or equal to 60 inches high for kids 4 and 5 years old. School-age kids can have horizontal, rung, and step ladders, overhead rings, fulcrum seesaws, arch climbers, and more.
Has it passed safety standards?
Perhaps the most important consideration you have to make is on safety and durability. Aside from choosing age-appropriate equipment, you should carefully look into the manufacturer’s background - check if any of their products have been recalled or deemed substandard by the ASTM, CPSC, and other product safety experts. The CPSC has a safety education page in their official website that gives alerts, guidance, information, and the latest news on playground safety, so that’s a good place to start.
Will it protect my kids from injuries?
As previously mentioned, consulting safety experts is a good idea before making a playground purchase. Aside from the equipment, you will need to invest in proper surfacing material that acts as cushion for potential falls and spills. Rubber mulch is a good option because it offers the best shock absorbency, as well as the least maintenance, among all playground surfacing materials.
However sturdily built a playground is, you are going to have to commit to keeping your kids safe while playing, especially if they are very young. Constant supervision is a must if you want to prevent injuries, accidents, and other untoward incidents from happening.
How much maintenance is involved?
Of course, the price tag is also a good consideration, especially if you are paying for a good design with quality materials. A playset is more of a luxurious investment than a necessity, after all. After deciding to buy a playground set, remember to keep maintenance in your budget, as well. You could need some re-coating, re-varnishing, and sealant to protect wooden parts of your playground as seasons roll by. Commit to regular inspection. Check for rotting wood, rusting metal, loose parts, peeling paint, and other hazards. Test surfaces constantly to see if they are too hot or too cold for your kids to use.