Unfortunately, about 50,000 children go to U.S. hospital emergency rooms annually because of injuries caused on home playground equipment and about 80% of those injuries are from children falling off of the equipment.
To ensure that your child has a safe and entertaining experience while playing on their wooden play structure, make sure that you select and/or create a safe location for their play structure. Your child’s wooden play structure should be placed in a location where it visible from inside of your home, patio, or porch. This location should also be clear of obstacles that could cause injuries. This location should be away from roads, driveways, and low over-hanging tree branches. You should also make sure that are no overhead wires, such as power lines or cable wires, by this play area.
To reduce the likelihood of your child getting hurt from tripping, you should choose an area that is level and free of tree stumps and/or roots and large rocks. Having a level playing area will also provide an excellent well-drained play area that won’t get washed away be heavy rains. (If your desired play area isn’t level, you should have it re-graded for the proper installation of your wooden play structure and to provide for proper water drainage.)
This location should also be least 6 feet away from any buildings or obstacles, and that includes fences, sheds, trees, or poles. In the swing area, you should have a larger safety zone to the front and rear of the swing. This distance should be equal to twice the height of the top beam from which the swing is suspended. (For example: If the swing beam is 10 feet off the ground, the safety zone should be a minimum of 20 feet in front and 20 feet behind the swing. So, the total play area should be a minimum of 40 feet wide.)
As mentioned earlier, 80% of the injuries that children receive while playing on their home playground structure are caused by falling. To help protect your child from falls, you should provide a shock-absorbing protective surfacing material, such as mulch, sand, of other rubberized compounds underneath and around your wooden outdoor play structure’s safety zone – that was discussed earlier.
The above information is supported the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission at cpsc.gov