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Adding a Backyard Playground: Staying Safe and Having Fun!

By Margaret Mierke

Photo courtesy Northland Recreation Supply

Playing it safe does not mean your children can’t enjoy backyard play equipment—it just means you need to take precautions to protect them. Here are some tips to help keep your kids safe:

  • Anchor swing sets to avoid tipping; look for equipment that includes a set of detailed assembly instructions.
  • Do not attach, or allow children to attach, ropes, jump ropes, clotheslines or pet leashes to play equipment. Children can be strangled by loose ends dangling from swings, slides or play decks. Loose strings on clothing (e.g. jackets or ponchos) can also cause accidental strangulation if caught on play equipment.
  • Check for dangerous or protruding hardware, like open ‘S’ hooks or protruding bolt ends.
  • Be vigilant about spaces that could trap your child, such as openings in guardrails or between ladder rungs.
  • Make sure elevated decks have guardrails to help prevent falls.
  • Select a swing set with soft material, such as a rubber belt seat; wood or metal seats can cause more serious injury on impact.
  • Remove any tripping hazards, like exposed concrete footing, tree stumps and rocks from the play area.
  • Check the play equipment surface regularly to make sure it is in good condition. Smooth out sharp points, edges or rough wood as soon as you spot them.
  • Never use wood preservatives that contain creosote or other known chemical carcinogens on wooden play equipment.
  • Most importantly, carefully supervise children on play equipment, even in your own backyard. Teach your kids some basic playground rules. For example, warn them not to climb on the very top of the play set or walk close to, in front of, behind or between moving items.
Have Fun!

With careful planning, backyard playgrounds can provide safe yet challenging activities for kids of all ages. Whatever your yard or budget size, take the time to search out the best quality play structure for your family and it will be enjoyed by your children (and maybe even grandchildren) for generations to come.


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