As parents, we only want the best for our children. And that becomes difficult when having them protected by layers of bubble-wrap every single day is not a practical option. Children are going to have fun, do crazy things and get hurt every once in a while, and that doesn’t make you a terrible parent. But, with most things, there are ways where you can allow them their fun while knowing that their chance of being injured is minimal.
Take the jungle gym for example. Whether you buy a full jungle gym set, DIY a jungle gym for your kids or let them play on the one down at the local park, there are ways to make the area a safer one for your kids.
Jungle gyms are a great way for your child to enjoy being outdoors and (unknowingly) exercise. It’s also a great way for them to be social with other children and have even been known to help with brain development. You have every reason to get a jungle gym for your home or take your child to the park. And if you’re still concerned about their safety, here are the safety features to include in your jungle gym or to make sure the public jungle gym has in place.
Think about the base
The first thing you need to look out for in a jungle gym area is the base and foundations it’s been built on. The ground on which a jungle gym is placed shouldn’t be concrete or asphalt. It needs to be shock-absorbing in the event a child falls and just in general because the chances are high that your kids will be jumping from one section to the next.
Materials that make for safer playground bases include sand, safety-tested rubber and wood chips. Grass and dirt won’t cover it and it’s usually best to elevate your jungle gym area in order to have a safe base for your kids to land on.
Obviously, you need to make sure that the hardware of the jungle gym is of a good quality. If not, you’re leaving your jungle gym vulnerable to deterioration from weather elements and general wear and tear. And that means you’re risking your child’s safety.
Treated wood and galvanised metal should be your materials of choice, especially if you’re building the jungle gym yourself. Splinters, rust and crumbling or corroding jungle gym structures pose more than one safety threat. And while the best quality hardware might be durable, there are more ways to make them safer and “ouch-less”.
For example, finishes on hardware should be textured and powdered to encourage a better grip on their surfaces. Other things you want to look out for are snag-free bolts and materials that won’t get stuck on your children’s clothing and cause an accident. And if you’re having climbing ropes anywhere, make sure the rope material is UV resistant and splinter-free.
It’s not uncommon for jungle gym areas to be cordoned off and surrounded by a wall, fence or wooden trellis. And if you’re putting your jungle gym in the garden, using a trellis as a backdrop or to section off the jungle gym area could be a great move in terms of garden décor.
It also provides privacy in your garden and keeps your kids in one area which means less stress for you on their whereabouts. Especially if you have younger children who are curious and tend to wander off and get lost until you find them in a far corner of the garden eating what you hope is just mud. Surrounding the jungle gym with a trellis is more for your peace of mind than anything else.
Age appropriate add-ons
And the best way to make a safe jungle gym area for your kids is to only have age-appropriate add-ons. When you build your own jungle gym, you can choose which add-ons to secure to your jungle gym’s foundations. If you have a five-year-old, you shouldn’t be adding a fireman’s pole, for example, they don’t have the strength for that just yet.
And things like climbing cargo nets should have child-size appropriate holes that won’t get their limbs or heads stuck in. The same goes for jungle gym ladder steps that shouldn’t be too far apart for shorter or smaller children.
The best safety feature, however, is adult supervision. Accidents happen within seconds and you’d rather be there to immediately handle the situation. At the end of the day, you know your child best and what they are and aren’t capable of. All they want is to have some fun and, as long as the jungle gym has these safety features, you should let them.