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Make Sure Your Backyard Play Equipment Is Safe

by Francine Huff, All About Lawns Columnist

Many companies that sell backyard play equipment offer heavy discounts during the fall and winter months. But while you may be able to get a good deal on a play set for your backyard at this time, it's important to make sure any equipment you buy is safe for your kids.

 Wood Treatments

If you're buying wood equipment for your backyard, find out whether or not it has been treated with chromated copper arsenate (CCA). This chemical helps wood resist rotting and last longer. Wood treated with CCA is also used in material for decks, picnic tables, and garden beds.

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However, consumer and environmental groups are concerned about the risk posed to humans because of the arsenic in the CCA. Some studies have shown that arsenic, a proven carcinogen, poses severe health risks especially for children. According to the Green Guide, use of CCA is mostly unregulated in the U.S., although some backyard playground equipment makers have said they would stop selling wood products treated with CCA.

Backyard Play Equipment: Making the Right Choice

When choosing equipment for you backyard, look for wood treated with ammoniacal copper quaternary (ACQ), rot-resistant cedar or redwood, recycled plastic, metal, or composite materials. Also, avoid backyard play equipment treated with lead paint. Chipped, cracked, or peeling paint--especially on older equipment--can cause learning disabilities and behavioral disorders.

Playground Injuries

According to the Centers or Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 200,000 children are treated each year by emergency rooms for injuries related to playground equipment. About 45 percent of injuries result in fractures, internal injuries, concussions, dislocations, and even amputations. Swings are responsible for most injuries on backyard playgrounds. Make sure play equipment doesn't have any sharp edges, dangling ropes or other parts in disrepair.


About the Author
Francine L. Huff is a freelance journalist and the author of The 25-Day Money Makeover for Women. She has appeared on a variety of TV and radio shows.

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