Cre­ate a safe and en­joy­able back­yard play area

The Review - - Classifieds -

Home­own­ers of­ten as­pire to have at­trac­tive back­yards that look like they be­long in a mag­a­zine. While these can be pic­turesque and func­tional for adults, they may not be en­tirely prac­ti­cal for home­own­ers who have young chil­dren, es­pe­cially when the ma­jor­ity of the yard is cov­ered with paving stones or con­crete. When young chil­dren are part of a house­hold, home­own­ers may ben­e­fit by de­sign­ing yards that are both func­tional and fun. In­cor­po­rat­ing safe play ar­eas for kids is one way to un­lock the po­ten­tial of both big and small back­yards. As chil­dren run off to en­joy a play­ground, safety is the last thing on their minds. Kids are most in­ter­ested in scal­ing lad­ders to tree­houses or coast­ing down slides. That’s why adults must take it upon them­selves to keep in­jury pre­ven­tion in mind. Safest Play­ in­di­cates that play­groundrelated in­juries rou­tinely re­sult in se­vere frac­tures, in­ter­nal in­juries, con­cus­sions, and dis­lo­ca­tions. In the ma­jor­ity of play­ground in­juries to chil­dren younger than age 5, the head and face are af­fected. Chil­dren be­tween the ages of 5 and 9 ex­pe­ri­ence more leg and arm in­juries than younger kids. The Con­sumer Prod­uct Safety Com­mis­sion states 70 per­cent of chil­dren’s in­juries oc­cur on home play­grounds. More than 28,000 chil­dren are in­jured each year on play­grounds across Canada, ac­cord­ing to Parachute, a na­tional in­jury pre­ven­tion or­ga­ni­za­tion. When con­sid­er­ing play­ground equip­ment for the yard, par­ents need to make safety a pri­or­ity. The Canada Safety So­ci­ety ad­vises par­ents to fol­low the “5 S’s of Play­ground Safety”: Sur­face, struc­tures, site, su­per­vi­sion, and safety. • Sur­face: Par­ents should as­sume that chil­dren will fall. To lessen the blow of falls, choose play­ground equip­ment with a perime­ter of six feet of a softer sur­face, such as sand, pea gravel, rub­ber pieces or wood chips. This ma­te­rial should be be­tween six and 12 inches deep. • Struc­ture: The struc­ture of the play equip­ment should be built from sturdy ma­te­ri­als. Pres­sure­treated lum­ber was once the stan­dard, but it’s not ad­viseable for kids’ play­grounds, as the chem­i­cals used in the lum­ber can leach and young chil­dren may ac­tu­ally bite or pick at the wood. Use cedar or an­other wood that re­sists de­cay. Once the struc­ture is built, in­spect it fre­quently for dam­age. • Site: Look around the land­scape for an ideal place to lo­cate the play­set. There should be no ob­sta­cles that chil­dren can hit while slid­ing or swing­ing. Avoid over­hang­ing branches and do not place equip­ment too close to trees or fenc­ing. Try to keep the set out of di­rect sun­light, which can make com­po­nents heat up and scald young bod­ies. • Su­per­vi­sion: Do not leave chil­dren alone while they are play­ing. Prevent chil­dren from us­ing the play­set in an in­cor­rect man­ner. • Safety: Fol­low the di­rec­tions for in­stal­la­tion. Make sure all posts are an­chored into the ground se­curely. Rail­ings should be spaced so that chil­dren can­not get stuck be­tween them. Check that metal com­po­nents have not rusted and that there is no ad­di­tional ex­ces­sive wear. Be sure that no tools or other dan­ger­ous items are left around the yard. Back­yard play­grounds should be built with safety in mind. Learn the rules of play equip­ment and yard safety.

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