Are Swing Sets Dangerous? How to Keep Them Safe


When you become a parent or a caregiver, there is something inside of you that just changes. Your priorities rearrange as your protective instincts kick in ensuring your child’s safety. As they grow, you will want to continue to keep them safe- even with the things they enjoy, like swing sets.

The most commonly reported injuries with swing sets include brain and facial injuries and whiplash, though strangulation from swing chains are the leading (but rare) cause of death with swing sets. However, these injuries are often preventable with safe use and close monitoring of your children.

While brain and facial injuries and whiplash sound incredibly intimidating, these types of injuries can often be prevented by avoiding pushing your child too high in a swing, only permitting a child to play on a swing set that is appropriate for his or her age, and following other safety guidelines.

Continue reading to learn more about how to keep your children safe on a swing set.

Are Swing Sets Dangerous?

There is a difference in something being innately dangerous and something being dangerous because of the way it is used.

For example, a chef’s knife, handed to a 3-year-old is going to be innately dangerous because the child does not know how to properly handle it and can easily injure themselves. However, in the hands of a world-renowned chef, the knife becomes something that is used to skillfully prepare a beautiful dish.

Swing sets have minimal components that are innately dangerous- even to young children. However, the way they are misused can lead to injury, especially in the case where supervision is not provided.

The most dangerous aspects of a swing set include:

  • The swings
  • Potential strangulation with the chains
  • Falling off from swinging too high
  • And high structures creating fall risks

This is why it is so important to use the structure in an appropriate way and to teach your children to play on their swing set safely.

Not only are their age restrictions and guidelines, but there are proper ways to ensure that the swing set itself is safe. You will need to ensure that you follow proper guidelines for purchasing a more innately safe swing set as well as providing proper supervision for your children in order to prevent injuries.

To avoid casting significant worry into your mind and hearts, though, swing sets are generally safe when they are used correctly.

  • When swings are adjusted to proper heights
  • Young children are monitored and prevented from jumping or falling from a high platform
  • And the ground has a softer landing than flat cement, then safety on a swing set will be less of a concern.

Swing sets are still one of the safest ways for kids to play when monitored by an adult.

With appropriate supervision and safety prevention methods, children and adults can enjoy all of the fun and memories that swing sets can bring into their lives. Just be sure to follow the guidelines that come with your swing set and review the below recommendations for safety tips on keeping your swing set safe.

Here’s a quick video showing some safety features that are commonly added to swing sets now:

How to Keep a Swing Set Safe?

Swing set safety is mostly about how you use the structure, though there are also a few ways to ensure that the structure itself is set up for safety.

Mainly, you will want to follow age-appropriate guidelines for permitting your children to use the swing set in a safe way. Along with this, you can take a good look at the swing set and the ground that you set it up on to ensure the safest results.

To keep a swing set safe, consider doing the following:

Follow age-appropriate guidelines

Following age-appropriate guidelines is going to be one of the most important ways that you can keep a swing set safe.

  • If you have young children under the age of 3-years-old, then you will need to install a child’s swing that encloses and keeps the child inside of the swing while swinging.
  • Additionally, young children should not be permitted to climb a slide that is higher than they are capable of balancing near while waiting on their turn.
  • Or, if an adult is not able to accompany a child to the top of a slide, then it might be best to avoid this until you are confident that the child can safely balance near the edge and slide down when it is their turn.
  • Along with this, if you have a young child who still stumbles when walking (more than just the occasional trip and fall), then you will want to avoid large slides.
  • Instead, choose a slide that does not exceed the height of the parent/caregiver. Using a smaller slide, an adult can safely help a child down the slide when needed.

In this context, it is up to the adult to monitor for safe use of all of the swing set equipment. Though your child might be begging for you to push them higher on the swing, you must recognize the risk that you put your child at when you push them too high.

Avoid pushing your child to a height that they are incapable of safely jumping from. Generally speaking, this will not exceed double the child’s height when they are standing on the ground.

And, if you notice that there is slack in the chains of the swing as you are pushing your child (or as they are swinging themselves), then the swing is definitely too high.

Ensure enough clearance for the swings

To avoid hitting anything while you or your child is swinging, ensure that there is enough space surrounding the swing set.

Measure at least 8 feet from all sides of the structure and 10 feet from the swings to the nearest fence.

Along with this note, be sure that there are no tree branches, poles, wires, or other objects that the person swinging could accidentally hit or get caught in. These structures can cause an accidental injury to anyone on a swing, regardless of his or her age.

Sand down any rough edges

To keep the swing set structure itself safe, be sure to sand down any edges that might be splintering. This will help to prevent any injuries from the wood or other materials that are jagged and could get caught by a child’s hand.

For more on maintaining a swing set, be sure to review our How To Stain A Swing Set article.

Cover tripping hazards

Most swing sets are going to come with some sort of platform or base that the poles of the structure will rest on. These supports offer a leveling effect to the swing set as a whole, and they help to keep the swing set balanced on the surface.

But, when these structures are not properly placed (or if concrete blocks or another object is added to level out the swing set, then they can become a safety hazard. As the edges might stick out (and not be clearly visible to a child who has their eyes set on their next slide adventure), they can cause someone to trip and fall.

To cover the stakes or grounding platforms, you can choose to bury the structures entirely, place sand or dirt over them, or come up with another creative solution. Just be sure that there are no jagged or uneven surfaces that could cause someone to stumble and fall.

Monitor young children while swinging

Not only do you need to ensure that age-appropriate guidelines are being followed when using your swing set, but young children need to be monitored at all times. Even if a child is capable of pushing themselves on a swing, this does not mean that their independence should be neglected.

Children who can independently push themselves are possibly more at risk of injury as they could lack the sound judgment in knowing how high and fast is safe.

With older children, be sure that you can at least keep an eye on the swing set use, and avoid a child playing on a swing set alone without supervision- regardless of age.

Avoid reckless behavior on the swing set

Reckless behavior on a swing set is going to happen if you do not put safety rules in place. Be sure to set up and enforce safety rules with your children, and teach them how to use a swing set safely.

For example, one important safety rule is not to hang off of the swing’s chains. As fun and as tempting as it might look for your child to climb the chains, this is what can lead to an accidental injury and a rare but fatal strangulation accident.

Next, whether it is an adult or a child using the swings, be sure to avoid using them recklessly. Though it might be fun to try to flip over the support beam that the swings hang from, this feat is not something that is likely to be accomplished, and definitely not something that will be accomplished safely.

Follow the guidelines for the structure’s weight limit

Not all swing sets are made equal, and there will be different guidelines for each swing set’s weight limit. Regardless of what the manufacturer’s recommendations are for your unique swing set, it is important to follow these.

As a general rule of thumb, be sure to avoid more than one person attempting to sit on the swing (unless an adult has a small child safely in their lap and is not swinging vigorously).

Additionally, take a few moments to review the structure of your swing set and the guidelines provided by the manufacturer, and avoid using the swing set inappropriately.

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Robert Sampson

I'm Robert Sampson and I live in Colorado where I spend a lot of time in the backyard with my family either grilling, playing games and sports, or working on a project to make our backyard a better place to be.

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