As childhood obesity has become a national health issue, keeping kids active is now more important than ever. Backyard play sets give kids a natural way to stay healthy and active and give parents peace-of-mind about safety concerns. It’s a great way to get the kids away from the television and outside exercising.
Today, there are more options than ever for creating a dynamic outdoor play experience offering high-quality wood construction and features such as decks, tunnels, rock-climbing walls…even trapezes for the budding aerialist. Kids really seem to enjoy engaging features as well located inside a play structure or fort such as tic-tac-toe panels and chalkboards.
When choosing features for a backyard play set, consider the ages of your children. What kids like typically will depend on their age. Be sure to include a variety of features and activities to create a play set designed for years of fun. Providing variety is also a way to establish priorities when determining your budget.
Of course, selecting the best-quality safety features for your outdoor play structure will help to eliminate concern over safety issues. The most important aspect of safety on a playground has less to do with features than it does with the heaviness of the structure. Making sure your backyard play set will stay secure and intact is first and foremost, but you also want to think about more than just the nuts and bolts.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends natural wood like redwood for outdoor play sets as opposed to treated wood. Safe, non-slip flat-steel safety rungs and a non-skid coating help prevent slips when the structure gets wet.
In the event that a fall or slip does occur, safety surfacing (under the structure) can provide an additional layer of protection. Loose-fill surfacing includes wood playground mulch, also known as Engineered Wood fiber, and rubber playground mulch. Make sure to use mulch that is designed for playground use and not just for landscape use. Unitary surfacing includes Bonded Rubber and Synthetic turf over a foam pad. Unitary surfacing costs more up front, but requires very little maintenance.
A few questions to ask before purchasing an outdoor play structure:
- What type of wood is the system made of?
- Is it chemical-free?
- What is the warranty?
- What kind of maintenance is required to keep the warranty valid?
- Is the system designed for adults as well as children?
- Is customer service offered?