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Kidding around

For parents who want to encourage a little less screen time, creating kid-safe play spaces outside will help the whole family maintain a healthy lifestyle. Play equipment including trampolines and swing sets are a great way to keep kids on the go, provided you observe a few simple safety tips. Child injury prevention foundation Kid Safe NSW offers some general guidelines to create a safe backyard space:

Trampoline safety

  1. Buy the best: safety requirements for trampolines in domestic use in Australia are outlined in Australian Standard AS4989:2015 — make sure you buy a trampoline that complies.

  2. Set the rules — one bouncer at a time: trampolines spell trouble when multiple kids take to the mat at once, so set a rule of only one kid at a time to avoid collisions and other accidents.

  3. Supervise: supervise children at all times, regardless of age. Trampolines aren’t recommended for use by kids under six — if you are happy for your little one to have a go, you’ll need to take extra care as young kids are more prone to serious injury on trampolines.

  4. Padding: make sure to install safety padding on the trampoline frame to minimise injury in the event of impact.

  5. Maintain: regularly check the trampoline mats and netting. Ensure there are no holes and that the springs are intact and securely attached. Make sure the frame isn’t bent and that the leg braces are securely locked.

  6. Check for surrounding hazards: make sure the location of your trampoline is hazard-free — there should be a suitable distance between the trampoline and walls, fences, other play equipment and garden furniture. Make sure there’s enough overhead clearance to avoid trees, clotheslines or any present wiring.

Swing sets

The humble swing provides an exhilarating ride for tiny tots, so here’s a few simple tips to keep swing sets hazard-free:

  1. they should be freestanding, so don’t attach them to any other play equipment.

  2. Ensure swing frames are securely anchored into the ground and consider installing soft playground surfacing in the fall zone in case of any slips.

  3. Swing seats should be made of a soft flexible plastic or rubber.

  4. There should be no more than two swing kids playseats per frame. Make sure there is at least 600mm separating the two swing seats to avoid collision.

  5. Chain links can entrap and crush tiny fingers, so make sure your swing set uses a close link chain or features chain covers made from a plastic or rubber sheath.

  6. Ensure the connections of the swing at the seat do not present sharp protruding parts that could injure the child’s hand or catch clothing.

Simple backyard safety

  • clear away general rubbish and remove trip hazards.

  • ensure tools, equipment and chemicals are safety stored in a locked location.

  • choose play equipment that complies with Australian Standard AS4685.

  • Position play equipment in dense shade if possible, away from the driveway and pool.

  • ensure play equipment is strong, sturdy and anchored and any ropes are secured top and bottom.

  • check for sharp edges, springs and protruding parts that could pierce skin or tangle hair and clothing.

  • Fence off driveways and carports from play areas.

  • regularly inspect everything for damage.

The backyard is a world of wonder for young kids, so it won’t take much encouragement to get them outdoors and enjoying some fresh air provided you create a safe and inviting space. Be sure to keep an eye on the little ones as they explore, and visit the Kid Safe website (www.kidsafensw.org) for more information.

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