Playgrounds and Play Centers

Warm weather is a call for all kids to get outside and play on swings, jungle gyms, monkey barsyou name it. Active children love to push boundaries and test their limits, and playgrounds are a great place to do so. However, for parents and supervising adults, there is always a concern for safety, and this is a crucial point when buying playgrounds and play sets. By considering all potential aspects of product safety, you can be sure that playgrounds can be fun and safe at the same time and help you keep your little ones far from harm's way. This guide will discuss the features that are most important to look at when buying these items, and how to decide which size, shape, and style to get.

Safety First

First and foremost, there is no better method of injury prevention than adult supervision. For tots under eight years old, it is always a good idea to keep a very close watch on what they are up to when using jungle gyms. Of course, every child is different and his or her strength, coordination, balance, and self-awareness develop at varying rates. Use good judgment to determine when (and if!) he or she is "old enough" to use home playgrounds by themselves. Another important thing to remember is that by teaching a child at a young age what to do and what not to do is crucial to his or her future safety.

Equipment Construction

Play centers, swing sets, and jungle gyms are usually made of wood, plastic, or metal. Each type of material has its benefits and drawbacks, most of which will be the deciding factors in which type of play set to buy. Here is a summary of what each type offers.

Be Aware of These Features

'''Swings''' * Make sure to get swings that feature rubberized metal chains. They won't pinch like metal, and won't rip, fray, or fade, like rope can. * The best seats should be lightweight. Heavy ones can injure a child if his or her head gets hit by it. * Rubber sling seats are not heavy and they are appropriate for children of just about any size. They are the kind used in public parks and make the safest and most durable type of swing seat for home use. * Beware of swings that are set too close together. It can cause kids to run into each other. '''Slides''' * Stability and strength are key features. * Make sure that the slide has guard rails to prevent little ones from falling. Otherwise, look for scooped slides that are more circular than flat. * Look for wide rungs that are easy to climb. * Choose height accordingly. Little children should have shorter slides so as not to injure themselves from falling. '''Play Centers''' * Always make sure that there are guardrails on any platform elevated above 2.5 feet. * Guardrails must be spaced about 3.5 inches apart to ensure that heads won't get stuck between the bars. * Angled safety ladders are easier and safer to climb; the rungs are usually steps, which leave less possibility for slipping. * Vinyl coated rungs on monkey bars won't burn sensitive hands. '''Surrounding Areas''' * Any play area should have a shock-absorbing floor. Note that grass is not cushioning, as it is simply covering very hard dirt. * Wood chips, sand and pea gravel are good materials to lay around the play center area. Make sure that if you are enclosing it (with a wooden barrier, for example) that you distance the boundary far enough from the play area. Kids jumping off swings or flying off slides can hit the border and injure themselves.

Cool Off With Water Slides

For really hot days, there are inflatable play sets that include water slides and pools. Be aware of certain things. * Keep track of holes or pricks. Make sure nothing sharp comes near inflatables. Sets often come with patches, but usually there are only so many. * Consider space in the yard and how many children will be playing. Sets with multiple slides may be a good idea. * Some sets come with other added features, like a basket ball hoop to play with in the shallow pool, or jet sprays to get others wet with. * While inflatable sets are easy to store, they can be difficult to set up. Make sure you have an electric air pump to get things going.

Top Manufacturers

One of the best makers that are accessible on the Web is called Rainbow Play. They allow you to customize your play center to your liking and budget. They are quite impressive, wooden play systems of high quality. Other makers that you can shop for through ShopWiki are as follows: * Gorilla Play Sets * Little Tikes * Disney * Step 2 Company * Swing n' Slide Corp.

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