You cannot cover your child in bubble-wrap, but you can take care when selecting the safety features on toys your child plays with, or on. Your child's safety depends on a well-constructed and quality design Jungle Gym.
We have used the same design on our structures since 1989, "tweaking" it when a flaw has been found, and ultimately making it as safe as possible for our customers, your child and your nerves.
Below are the main built-in features:
The industry standard is to use a (75-100) mm diameter pole, this measurement is taken from the top diameter of the pole, not the butt end.
The size of platform and support poles is important, as the thinner the pole, the quicker the crack.
We take down all the knots and rough edges on the treated timber, smooth off the ends of the poles, drill and then woodguard the timber prior to installation. This is all done in our yard during manufacturing to ensure that all our structures are uniform and quality controlled.
This generic drilling also allows you to add items at a later stage, ie when your 18 month old turns 4 years and is looking for more challenge.
All timber structures require maintenance, from your tool shed, kennel, lapa to carport, even your indoor furniture needs polishing.
Regular maintenance can enhance the lifespan of your structure. The average lifespan on treated gum poles is 15 – 20 years, if maintained. If not, 3 - 5 years. Quite a difference. Our longest standing, well-maintained Jungle Gym to date is 15 years at a Caravan Park in Ballito.
We use a woodguard timber preservative during production, and touch up again on site, after installation. We also use a waxol / woodguard mixture on the platform and roof, for extra protection, as these are the parts which will receive the most wear and tear (the sun on the roof and the kiddies on the platform). This does have a slight residue for the initial few weeks, but quickly disappears.
Treatment of the timber
Timber is a perishable product and needs to be treated against pests and insects. All our timber is SABS and ISO 9001 approved.
According to the South African Wood Preservers Association (SAWPA), a government regulatory body, the CCA treatment used to prevent pest and insect infestation is perfectly safe for domestic use. Each country has different conditions, and as such has different chemical concentrations in their treatments. The tests carried out in South Africa reveal the chemical becomes fixed in the timber and is perfectly safe.
Should you require any further information, please see www.sawpa.co.za, or alternatively ask our office for the notice issued by Rentokil (distributors of CCA), for their survey results.
These are 600mm above the platform, which is chest height for the average kiddie. Two handrails are dangerous as it gives the child a step ladder to climb, and as it allows his centre of gravity to move to his waist, the child becomes heavy and could fall out of the structure.
Should you be concerned about an "open" side where the kiddies could fall through the handrails, especially on the swing side of the structure, we would recommend a closed in side with vertical bars or solid side to prevent this, rather than a second handrail.
The top handrail does not hinder the children using the items eg ladder, it forces the child to sit before attempting to slide or climb down, or to crouch as they are coming up, and reduces the risk of falling. It also prevents that little tiger who wants to throw himself tummy first down the slide.
A larger platform allows your littlies to take their friends, toys, lunch and mommy up the structure. If the platform is too small, they may not have enough room to play around, especially if there are more than two. And truth is there will always be friends around to play, or little boys to fight if crowded.
This is kept to 1.4 / 1.5 off the ground, depending on the site. Any lower and it will be too boring, and any higher you cannot reach the children without climbing up the structure yourself. The main reasoning here is imagine a pregnant mom trying to climb the structure to get a distressed child down.
The ladder rung spaces are 200mm apart, this is the average for an 18 month old to start playing on. The ladder is usually the first item the kiddies learn to climb on, and offers and easy access up and down the structure.
If this ladder is too narrow, or the rungs too far apart, spacially the children will not feel safe, and could slip between the rungs.
These are concreted into the ground, +- 600mm, for stability. A little wobble is good, as it doesn't place rigid strain on the timber. However, a lot of wobble is bad as the structure then becomes unstable.
All items are attached by means of fully galvanised threadbar, nuts and washers or nails. No metal parts protrude to hurt the child.
The rope used is 12mm polysteel, which doesn't lead to rope burn on the childrens hands. It also holds up to 600kg!
The roof is virtually inaccessible (although there will always be one little mischief who makes it up there). The total finished height from the ground to the roof ridge is 3m.
The roof is solid timber, which gives shade and protection from the harsh African sun, as well as protecting the platform from the weather. We do not use shadecloth or plastic roofs as we have found these perish relatively quickly and are a hazard if climbed.
The slides are heavy duty fibreglass, and are sealed with a silicon layer to prevent fading. They are 2.4m long with an internal floor 370mm wide, the sides are 130mm high, and the bottom lip has been strengthened.
The H-frame legs at the bottom of the slide lift the lip of the slide from the ground to enable the child to put their feet on the ground at the end. This together with the curve of the bottom of the slide, prevents bottom bumping.
Swings & Seats
The swing rail length is a thicker, selected pole and is kept to 2.7m across. A longer pole could warp or bend. The swings are 300mm apart, so as to avoid the kiddies hitting each other whilst swinging.
Swing seats are either timber or rubber. Unfortunately tyre seats without the steelbelt are very hard to come by as tyres are not made with a canvas belt anymore. Further, tyre seats for children over 2 years allow the child to slouch when swinging. We have found that the plastic baby seats, with front and back protection, ensure the child learns to sit straight whilst swinging and thus the child transfers easily across to wooden or rubber swing seats at around 2 years old.
Basic parental control includes teaching your children not to walk in front of moving swings, much like how to check when crossing the road.
Finally – this advice was taken from a child safety website:
"Teach your kids some commonsense rules for playground fun", advises Mick Mack, project coordinator for the National Program for Playground Safety.
- Show kids which equipment is okay for them to play on according to their age and size. "No 4- or 5-year-old should play on anything that's 8-feet high," says Mack. You can judge by looking at the playground equipment what's right for your kids. Look at the height, and the distance between steps and rungs. Today, new equipment is often labelled by age.
- Did you know a child's fall onto concrete from an 8-foot structure has the same impact as a car colliding ith a brick wall at 30mph.
- Remind kids not to play on wet equipment or force parts of their body through small spaces.
- Teach your children to watch out for hot metal surfaces, that may cause burns.
- Review simple safety precautions with your kids: Don't cross in front of moving swings. Get off a seesaw only when your partner's feet are on the ground. Don't push or pull others while playing on climbing equipment.
- Don't encourage young kids to swing faster or climb higher than they're comfortable with. Very young children will naturally stop themselves before they pass their own safety level, as long as they're not egged on by others.
Should you require any further safety information please do not hesitate to contact us.