Home swings and play equipment are fun and help your child stay active.
By properly installing and maintaining the equipment, you can help protect your child from falls and other play-related hazards. This information is based on the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) guidelines for keeping children safe on play equipment.
HOW TO CHOOSE & INSTALL HOME PLAYGROUND EQUIPMENT
Does your yard have enough space for the play equipment and surfacing?
- Play structures and swings should have soft surfacing material underneath to absorb the impact of a fall.
- Measure your area to make sure you have enough room for the play equipment and surfacing surrounding the equipment.
- Preschool playgrounds – the surfacing should extend 1 metre (3 feet) in each direction from the equipment.
- Playgrounds for older children – protective surfacing should extend at least 2 metres (6 feet) in all directions from the equipment.
Is the equipment right for your child’s age and abilities?
- Play equipment is often designed for two age groups:
- Children younger than 5 years of age,
- Children from 5 to 12 years of age.
- For children under 5 years, the equipment should be no higher than 1.5 metres (5 feet).
- Always follow the manufacturer’s age recommendations.
Does the equipment have barriers or guard rails to prevent falls?
- For pre-schoolers, barriers are required on equipment higher than 75 centimetres (30 inches)
- For children 5 and older and on equipment higher than 120 centimetres (4 feet).
Is the equipment free of gaps or hooks where clothing could get caught?
- Children are at risk of strangulation if their clothing gets caught.
- Check the equipment for bolt ends, finials or other places where clothes, strings from hoodies or mittens could get caught.
- Check that there is no gap between the top of the slide and the platform.
Are the railings spaced so that your child’s head cannot get stuck?
- All openings (such as spaces between ladder rungs and guardrails) should measure:
- Less than 90 millimetres (3.5 inches), or
- More than 225 millimetres (9 inches).
Are all moving parts either inaccessible or covered with guards or caps?
- This will prevent crushed or pinched fingers and toes.
- Children can be injured when they make contact with sharp edges or if something heavy or hard hits them.
- Swing seats should be made from canvas or lightweight rubber or plastic, rather than wood, heavy plastic or metal.
- Rounded posts and supports are safer than angled ones.
Installing your home playground
- Play equipment needs deep, soft surfacing underneath.
- Surfacing should be at least 32 centimetres (12 inches) deep of energy-absorbing material, such as wood chips, mulch, sand, or pea gravel.
- For preschool play equipment, the surfacing should extend 1 metre (3 feet) in each direction.
- For older children, surfacing should extend at least 2 metres (6 feet) in all directions from play equipment.
- Use a soft plastic landscaping border.
- To install the surfacing, dig down 32 centimetres (12 inches) so that the surfacing, curb and lawn are at the same level. That way the curb won’t cause an injury by if someone trips over it or falls on it.
- To help keep surfacing soft, put a ground sheet down and install the surfacing material over top.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and warnings
- If you have questions about the instructions or equipment, call the manufacturer.
- Home play equipment is often lighter than commercial play equipment and more likely to tip. Follow manufacturer’s instructions to anchor equipment to the ground.
- Do not alter the equipment in any way that is not permitted by the manufacturer.
- Never attach ropes, strings, chains or any other similar items, as these put children at risk of strangulation.
Maintaining your home playground
With use, rain, snow and sun, your home playground can deteriorate which can affect how safe it is. Maintain your play equipment by:
- Inspecting your playground often.
- Removing toys, sticks and other debris.
- Looking for and fixing broken, loose or worn-out parts.
- Replacing missing parts.
- Checking how deep the surfacing is. Add more surfacing when necessary.
- Raking the surfacing to keep it loose.
- With our Manitoba clay, sometimes a very hard layer can form just below the surface. If this happens, break it up with a rototiller to keep the whole depth of the playground surface loose.