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Swing SetMost young children enjoy playing outside, and it's beneficial for them too. What looks like simply running and jumping is actually practicing motor skills essential to development. Many parents decide to invest in an outdoor playset for the backyard, as it not only provides children the opportunity to get exercise, but will entertain them for hours. When deciding on a set, there are several things to consider.
  1. Do you have an appropriate space? For safety, there needs to be nothing within six feet of the perimeter of the playset. If you plan on installing swings, make sure there is 12 feet in front and behind the swings. Look up and confirm there are no tree branches or overhead wires in the way. On the ground, clear away any rocks, stumps, bricks or concrete. Make sure the ground is level.
  2. Metal or wood framework? A metal framed set is constructed with durability and resistance to rust. It requires minimum upkeep, only requiring some touch-up paint if it gets scratched. Many people prefer the look of wood structures, but they do require more maintenance. As the wood dries, the biggest problem involves splintering or bolts loosening. Frequent inspections are essential. Parents should also make sure they are pressure treated with a non-arsenic process that is safe for children. Both wood and metal playsets will last for years if treated well.
  3. Does it have appropriate safety features? There should be no sharp edges that children could get hurt on. Raised platforms should have rails to keep children from falling off, and all hardware needs to be covered with plastic caps. Chains should be sheathed in plastic to prevent pinched fingers.
  4. Is the landing soft? Families often spend the budget on the structure itself without considering the cost of adding material to the ground so that children won't get hurt when they fall (and they will fall!). The US Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends that families maintain a minimum depth of 9 inches of loose-fill materials such as wood mulch/chips, engineered wood fiber or shredded/recycled rubber mulch for equipment up to eight feet high; and nine inches of sand or pea gravel for equipment up to five feet high. Since the material does get compacted, it needs to be filled in occasionally.

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Children will love a playset in their own backyard, and chances are their friends and neighbors will visit and spend time on it too, so it's important to consider all the options and make the best decision for a safe and secure structure. Parents should also contact their independent insurance agent to discuss liability issues with backyard playgrounds and the coverage that can offer invaluable protection.

Are you protected against backyard liabilities? Call First Independent - Descamps Insurance Agency at (586) 247-2220 for more information on Sterling Heights home insurance.

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