Friday, September 23, 2011

Swing Sets

We hear a lot of question about swing sets!  Swing and slide are probably the most popular playground events.  Swingsets, swing seats and components should be the right type, style and size for the intended age group of use.

General Rules
1. Locate swings or other moving and rotating equipment away from other play equipment.   Note where children circulate and place your swing set outside of the circulation path.  You don't want children cutting through the swing chains enroute to other features!  This would suggest not putting your swing at the entrance to the playground.

2. In commercial playgrounds, a swing must NOT be attached to any other structure.  This is one easy way to spot residential equipment.  If the swing is attached to a play fort, climber or monkey bar- you are most looking at residential playground equipment.  Swings should discourage climbing or any type of play other than the swing seat itself. 

3. There MUST be a use zone.  This is the protected area around the physical swing structure itself.  Children need to be able to safely circulate AROUND the equipment, not cut through.   The safety zone also prescribes the area AROUND the equipment that needs to have safety surfacing installed. 

4. There MUST be no more than TWO seats in a bay.  A bay is the area between the outside posts.  A typical A-Frame style unit with a horizontal bar in the middle is a ONE BAY design.   A TWO BAY design would have legs on the outside and then legs in the middle to separate the bays.

Helpful Definitions
TO-FRO SWING: Swing moves on a single axis, such as forward and backward.

SWING HANGER: This is where a lot of the action ends up.  Where the chain meets the structure, the axis or pivot point.  You should see some sort of a bearing, bushing or mechanism that reduces the friction that occurs from the constant back and forth motion.   A spring loaded clip that resembles something you would hang your bathtub curtain with, regardless of the material, it likely a residential component. 
SWING BEAM: The top bar or where the chains attach at the top.  This may be constructed from wood or metal.   Wood beams are likely to violate some commercial requirements and are likely residential grade. 
ATTACHMENT: Your chain is connected to the seat below and pivot mechanism at top by an S-Hook, clevis or shackle.  The S-HOOK has some fine print about how it needs to be closed to prevent injury.  A clevis or shackle may resemble something of a horseshoe shape.  They should always be securely closed, usually with a specialized tool to prevent tampering.
SURFACING:  With the greater number of playground injuries coming from falls to the surface, the area below the swing and the USE ZONE around it must be appropriately covered.  This often comes at a great expense due to the required size of the zone.  Safety needs to come before budget.  If you can't afford the surfacing, postpone the swing structure. 
USEFUL Measurements
There are DOZENS of teeny little specifications that apply to each age group and style structure.  If you aren't in the manufaturing business, you probably don't want to read all the fine print required for this department.  Consult a professional to assist you with determining what standards SHOULD apply, and does your chosen equipment meet the appropriate requirements.

Copyright 2011 DunRite Playgrounds