An unsafe swing could hurt your child.

Safety Standards for Children's Swings

by Eliza Martinez

Going to the playground with your toddler and preschooler benefits you both. He gets to burn off some energy and have fun, while you get some fresh air and time away from the house. Swings are one of the top moving pieces at the playground that cause injuries to children, according to the National Safety Council. You don't have to take your tape measure and magnifying glass with you, but it's important to eyeball the swings to make sure your little one is safe.

1. Spacing

A swinging toddler or preschooler can knock down a wayward child who runs in front of it or could collide with other swingers or equipment if the swings aren't spaced properly. Give the swings a once-over at the playground to make sure they meet the safety recommendations. Swings should be spaced at least two feet apart and each swing frame should only have two swings. Pull the swings to all sides and make sure they won't hit the slide or climbing wall in any direction.

2. Style

Even if a swing meets the safety guidelines, not all styles are safe for young children. So no matter what meltdown might occur if you have to steer your toddler or preschooler away from the swings, doing it keeps him safe. The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends swings with belts or bucket seats as well as tire swings for children ages 2 to 5. Other types increase the risk that your little one will slide or fall out of the swing, which could result in an injury. The seats of the swing should be soft, not metal or wood, adds the National Safety Council.

3. Height

You might think swings that are low to the ground are the safest choice for your toddler or preschooler. It's true that low-hanging swings reduce the risk of injury, but those that are too low also pose the chance of getting hurt. Toddler and preschool size swings need to be at least 12 inches from the ground, notes the Environment Rating Scales Institute. If the swing hangs lower than this, or much higher, choose something else to play on so that your little one isn't in danger.

4. Fall Zone

If you have toddlers or preschoolers, you know full well that sometimes you can't do anything to stop their daring nature from taking over. If your little one is a swing jumper or so wiggly that he might fall from his swing, making sure there is a large and deep enough fall zone offers protection. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends playing on playgrounds with gravel, sand, rubber mulch or wood chips and avoiding those with cement, asphalt, carpet, dirt or grass. Make sure the protective surface is six to nine inches deep, which cushions your wild and crazy child if he falls from the swing.

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