“Stop the Swing Completely Before Getting Off”

So you think you know how to swing, kid? Sure, sure — everyone thinks they do: “You get on, you swing.” Yeah. And brain surgery is, “You open the top, you put in the marbles.” Listen, it’s not that simple.  If it was, everyone would be doing it!

Luckily for you, The National Program for Playground Safety has come up with some very helpful playground tips, including, “Always sit in the swing; don’t stand or kneel. Hold on tightly with both hands. Stop the swing completely before getting off.”

Got that? HOLD ON TIGHTLY WITH BOTH HANDS! That’s something they don’t teach you whippersnappers in school, right? You’re always tying yourself on with your pigtails.  But now you know better! And there’s more! Say you’re thinking of going on the slide!

Well, I wouldn’t if I were you. You’ve got your whole life ahead of you — why take that kind of crazy chance? But if you’re hellbent on riding the silver devil,  for God’s sake, remember:

“Take one step at a time and hold onto the handrail when climbing the ladder to the top of the slide. Never climb up the slide itself to get to the top.”

Understand? No more climbing the ladder without your hands! And I suppose I gotta remind you:

  • Always check that the bottom of the slide is clear before sliding down.
  • On hot days, feel the slide with your hand before climbing up to the top. If the slide feels too warm, don’t play on it.
  • And now, kid, it’s time to talk about the hard stuff. The big time. The ol’ M B: Monkey bars. You and your friends are going to want to go climbing all over them, I just know it.  All I ask is that you listen to the playground safety experts:

    Crowded equipment can be dangerous. Everyone should start on the same side of the equipment and move across it in the same direction.

    Just like a military drill. It’ll be fun! If and when you climb down safely, you can always go jump rope or something. But I’m telling you: Hold onto that rope with both hands! And when the rope is approaching your feet, for God’s sake, get them out of the way. I don’t care if you jump, skip, hop — just  lift them up! I know it sounds hard and confusing, but eventually you’ll get the hang of it. 

    And if not, there’s always working for the Program for Playground Safety. — Lenore

    64 Responses

    1. LOL! Great job at bringing out the humor in the absurdity of this world!

    2. But.. but.. I love climbing the ladder without my hands!

      This is hilarious. I do all the things they warn against every time I go to the park. (I’m still 12, guys. Sorry about that.) Well, except for climbing the ladder without my hands. I don’t actually think that’s psychically possible. I’ll try it sometime (and maybe I’ll fall off and break my arm and while that happens some weirdo will come up to me and say he lost his puppy or that he has candy in his car)

    3. *giggles like a look* Imagine the millions of kids who would have survived their playground time so much better had these guidelines been available back then. My kids are SO lucky now.

    4. that was supposed to say, *giggles like a loon*.

      D’oh.

    5. Gee golly whiz, now I know how to slide, swing, and climb on the playground equipment without actually killing myself. Thank you, National Program for Playground Safety! I don’t know how I managed without you.

    6. Oh. My. Gawd!! What happened to learning from experience? I mean, I’ve always told my kids not to climb up the slide itself, but more out of courtesy for the other kids trying to use it than out of safety. If there’s no other kids around, they’re more than welcome to climb the slide🙂

      When did our world become so paranoid and over protective??

    7. Oh, brother. I think I’m going to be ill. When I was a kid, one of my favorite games was to swing really high and then jump off. We’re taking away free will, here.

      Before my son was born I worked at a preschool and we had similar rules – only one person on the slide at a time, you can’t go down headfirst, don’t go too fast on the bikes, etc. You have to be touchy with other people’s kids. I always thought that with MY kids, I would totally let them slide down face first!! I would totally let them climb on all sorts of things, and if they have a skinned knee, so be it. Unless they’re hemophilliac, a skinned knee will not kill anyone.

    8. All kids climb up the slide. Silly to try to prevent it!

    9. Obviously written by people who have no experience with kids. Of if they do, were probably laughing hysterically when they wrote it.

    10. Meh. These are exactly the same things I was being yelled at for when I was a little kid… It’s not necessarily an indication of the current hystarical saftey climate (I am 28, for timing reference, so mid 80s to early 90s).

      An in all seriousness, lots of kids are injured while “misusing” playground equipment. Personally, I think the correct way to deal with that is to make sure there’s soft turf, and to make sure playground equipment is well maintained, not to mandate how kids play (as if you could).

      Anyway the post was funny even if I think this isn’t so much a new free range issue as much as the continuation of grumpy school administrators.🙂

    11. It’s a wonder I’m not dead with all the horrible risks it now seems I took when I was a kid.

    12. My daughter broke her arm when she was three, climbing up a slide ladder with both hands full of dirt.

      Does this sound like I’m going to argue in favor of these instructions? Silly — she was too little to read!

      I don’t believe anybody bothered telling her not to do it again, though as far as I know she never cared to. But she still (she’s almost 27) has a vivid memory of how *urgently* she wanted to know how the dirt would look rolling down the slide after she dumped it.

      Oh, and a week or two after the arm was healed, she broke it again. She was cuddled up with her great-grandma to be read to, and she wiggled and fell off the side of the overstuffed chair. Want to put warning labels on great-grandmothers? On books interesting enough to make a child wiggle?

    13. Seriously…you mock.

      But…our school actually removed the swings from the playground because they are “too dangerous.”

      Someday soon…there will be no playgrounds…only a giant padded room where the children are allowed to play…but only one at a time so no one gets hurt.

    14. Hrm- I suppose they should add, “Don’t climb the fake rock climbing wall and then balance along the top like an acrobat on a tight rope.” Yesterday I met the wal-mart safety patrol (not police, thankfully). I’ve made my comments about shopping carts before. My son stands up in them. He usually holds on to the edge. He has never been injured, although he did fall once (I caught his ankle before his little head hit the floor). Yesterday we were strolling dangerously along, when a concerned employee, a gentleman, stopped me and said gravely, “Please be careful about letting him stand up ma’am. I’ve seen children fall out of those carts before.” I looked him solemnly in the eye and nodded. In an understanding voice, I delivered the least zinging zinger ever. I said, “It happens.” Then I walked away, while the concerned gentleman shook his head.

    15. Too funny, but you know it is there to protect the adults and not the children right?

    16. These sound like legal disclaimers. Maybe the ought to have everyone sign a legal release, just like you do when you go skiing ‘swinging is an inherently hazardous activity, and the participant hereby takes full responsibility for all risks encountered thereof…’

      I’d like to make my own signs with pointers how to have the most fun swinging. You know, instructions on how to jump off the swing while it’s still going and still land on your feet. How to get the swing to loop over the top so it’s higher off the ground. How to climb up the sides of the swing structure to the top. And how to lay belly down on the swing, twist around the chains in one direction, then release and let the swing unwind so you can get really dizzy!

    17. ? How many people actually take the time to read ANY kind of manual ALL the way through?

    18. As I recall, the best part of swinging as a child was seeing who could jump the furthest from the apex of the swing.

      And how exactly are people going to get injured climbing up slides anyway? I tell my kids that people coming down have the right of way, but if there’s no one there, go ahead.

      I do tell them that if they want to go down on their stomachs it’s safer to lie on your stomach feet first, and if you don’t, make sure to always keep arms in front of you.

    19. Basically, climbing up the slide is not the most exciting activity. You do it once or twice and then call it quits. It’s like climbing Mt Everest, you do it because it is there. It’s the challenge…

    20. And we’re surprised when some high school kid finally cracks and shoots up the school !
      I truly feel sorry for kids being brought up in this paranoid climate. With all this talk of boosting a childs self esteem , I have to wonder what it does to ones self esteem when all the adults continually in one form or another tell you that you’re a fragile , helpless idiot incapable on doing anything unassisted or unsupervised.
      I grew up in the 70″s , free range heaven by today’s standards. As a kid I never met a slide that I didn’t want climb from the slide side first , and the taller and slipperier the better. But also as a kid of the 70’s I was brought up to realize I was not the center of the Universe and knew to have the common courtesy not to climb a slide backwards while others were waiting to go down. But I’m sure if I did interfere with the other childrens sliding experience, one of them would quickly chastise me for my inappropriate behaviour. You see, back then children actually sorted these little issues out on their own . And as for swings , what would be the point of swinging if you couldn’t dismount from the highest point that your courage would allow, and see if you could break the distance record of the previous kid who had done it , ha.ha !

    21. @Lene: As a computer programmer (I refuse to call myself a “software developer”) who’s often required to write manuals and other documentation, I can state, without fear of contradiction, that the answer to your question is NONE. Most people out there wouldn’t read a manual if it contained the the Great Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything; no-side-effect cures for cancer, diabetes, and AIDS; and the secret to eternal life.

      …but to get back on-topic, to this day I’m still amazed that the high school’s wood shop teacher (back when the high school still *had* a wood shop teacher), whose daughter was in my class, was allowed to build several large freestanding play structures on the schoolyard. I mean, I can think of whole bunches of things about them that weren’t “safe”… my God, he was the wood shop teacher, and those things were made of WOOD! Someone might get a splinter! And someone might jump off the really big one (probably 30 feet tall)! (For the record, none of us were ever that stupid.)

      Oh, and we didn’t have a manual.🙂

    22. I remember fondly when we would jump off the swing when at the highest point, to see who could land the farthest!

    23. I feel as though these should be rules from parents to their children for their safety and the safety of the other kids… and just respect to the other kids while playing! I think I’m as free range as they come, but I want my kids to be respectful so that means no going up the slide when others would like to come down.

      …and 7 years ago a “big kid” jumped off of his swing and it flew back and hit my son, who was on a swing, in the face. He will forever have a scar on his cheek because of it. Probably a complete freak thing, but my kids are not allowed to jump off of the swing if there are others around, not for their safety but for the other kids…

      I do think it’s ridiculous that there even is a “National Program for Playground Safety” …isn’t that what parents are for???

    24. They’re completely forgetting the “hook your legs in the chains and swing upside down” move!

    25. PLEASE tell me these people aren’t getting any of my tax dollars.

    26. I fail to see how this makes any difference, since we are going to be playing on foam playgrounds with bubble suits.

    27. Rob,

      I have students that can flip the seat completely over then jump off the swing. These are the tall swings with chains from the 1960’s and 70’s.

    28. I remember how we played on the swing in elementary school. All of you above who are remembering jumping from the highest point to see who could get furthest, we had a different take on it. We would swing as high as we could go and then yell “NOW!”. That was the cue to someone on the ground to grab the chain as we passed them and the swinger would let go of the chain and go flying. I’m sure this would not be allowed now. Actually, I’m sure if I saw my kids doing this I would stop them. Good thing I let them go to the park without me!

      Last week I went to pick my oldest daughter up from the park when she lost track of time and was late. When I got there, she was on the slide with about six of her friends. They were all sitting with their legs hanging over the side and as someone came down the slide, they would all get bumped and the person on the bottom would end up getting flung to the ground. Do you think the national programme for playground safety would approve?

      (P.S. I’ve been wanting to wax our slide at home for my two who are too young to go to the park without me. Would that actually make them slide faster? We put water on it in the summer but it’s too chilly for that now.)

    29. “Just like a military drill. It’ll be fun! If and when you climb down safely, you can always go jump rope or something. But I’m telling you: Hold onto that rope with both hands! And when the rope is approaching your feet, for God’s sake, get them out of the way. I don’t care if you jump, skip, hop – just lift them up! I know it sounds hard and confusing, but eventually you’ll get the hang of it.”

      Not so fast there, Lenore. While jumping rope, both feet must leave the ground simultaneously or you run the risk of entanglement. Jumping rope while running, skipping, or hopping significantly increases the risk of serious injury or possibly death!

      Also, before handling the jump rope, make sure you have your play helmet on.

    30. My daughter recently got a pretty bad blister from playing on the monkey bars at her school. The school nurse told her she didn’t want her coming back in later in the school year with the same problem.

      I just told my daughter that the skin on her hands would get a little tougher over time, and probably not blister so easily the next time. She’s fine, they healed and now she gets in trouble for forgetting to wash her hands before going back to class after playing on those monkey bars. Good thing she’s not easily discouraged.

    31. I see dark times for the American Olympic team in the future, especially (but not only) the gymnastic section…

    32. The elementary school my girls attend just installed a brand-new playground. It has climbing walls and a row of at least a dozen swings.

      Apparently they didn’t give out these instructions. Within just a couple of weeks of school starting, the local newspaper editor wrote his weekly column about his school-age daughter getting kicked in the teeth by someone in a swing at school. I later found out that it was at this very school and wasn’t the only incident of that.

      The good news is – nothing changed! Nobody got mad, there weren’t any new restrictions for playground play. Even the newspaper editor seemed to take it in stride that a knock-out baby tooth wasn’t anything to be upset about.

      Thank goodness for sense!! I hope it continues.

    33. Sounds just like the school where I work! We have about 20 playground rules; fear of accidents (read: lawsuits) has us teachers running around making sure the children only slide down on their bottoms, wait until the child in front of them has gone all the way up the stairs, run only on the grass and not the concrete… The list is nauseating and endless, and the children must be sick of our constant harping.

      We wish we could just discuss the rules once and let the children have fun, but you should see how hysterical parents get if they find out that their child so much as bumped his head on the playset because we weren’t standing over the child reminding him to be careful every two seconds. I think the Program for Playground Safety is a way of avoiding potential lawsuits…

    34. heck, we used to climb up the swingset itself and sit on the crossbars until the lunch ladies told us to get down. it just goes to show: you’ll never get out of this life alive.

    35. The ultimate swing experience from my childhood:

      Start with swings installed over asphalt. None of that mulch or rubber stuff.

      Get two people in adjacent swings.

      Have them twist up the swings as tight as humanly possible.

      Face each other, stick your legs out so that they go next to the person facing you. You can hold on to each other’s feet too.

      Have a third person push the two attached people as high as possible, and as eccentrically as possible. Eventually, you will not be able to hold on to each other and will separate, spinning wildly in all directions, crashing into each other, the poles, and everything else.

      Repeat until mom calls you home for dinner.

    36. OMG, those are like a bad comedy skit. Don’t stand and swing? Crap, that takes away 50% of my kids’ swinging fun!!!!

    37. Oooooohh… Wait until you get a Program for Walking-On-The-Street Safety! “…place your right foot in front of your left foot… mind the lamp posts… both feet on the sidewalk, don´t go climbing on the walls now…”

      And really, if this is all about fear of lawsuits, just pin a great big sign on your kids´ coats that reads “will respond for own acts”, or something like that.

    38. […] “Stop the Swing Completely Before Getting Off” So you think you know how to swing, kid? Sure, sure — everyone thinks they do: ”You get on, you […] […]

    39. What about the famous kid “someone” knew who swung so high he or she went over the top bar? Try as we would we never could. And when they got rid of the board swings for the ones that wrapped around your hips? Blech. You just couldn’t get good air after that.

    40. Gosh, I remember once when I was a kid, jumping off the swing, and because my skirt had caught on the seat I ended up being dragged a bit and probably losing a bit of skin. Didn’t stop me from jumping off swings – I did learn to make sure that none of my clothing was likely to get caught though. Wow, I must have been really bright because I learnt that all on my own without a manual.

    41. Like BMS, our swings (hell, all our playground equipment) was installed over asphalt. Made a helluva landing falling face first trying to do a penny drop (remember those). Yet we still did it. I think people lost skin layers weekly. We also had this wicked merry-go-round thing that was wooden that had metal pedals used to make it go faster. It never stopped rotating at recess and we had to run and jump towards an opening to get on. We often missed, scraping knees and getting kicked in the head.

      Damn, those were good memories. I don’t think I could handle my kids doing that, but already they are finding creative ways to use the playground equipment in ways that weren’t intended. And they will probably get themselves hurt in some way, but isn’t that how they learn where their limits are? Instead of us telling them they can only go so far?

    42. Hilarious. We were at a nice park in Milwaukee last month and my 6yo daughter ran over to the swings and within 5 seconds had fallen off. She was sitting, but obviously not gripping tightly. She didn’t even get to swing and fell right back onto her head. I did not see this as I was taking pictures of my 7yo son attempting the monkey bars. She came over crying and I asked if she was hurt. She said no and I told her to hold on tighter next time and off she went.

      I will say, I almost ripped my arm out of the socket when I was like 12 or 13 jumping from the swings. I was wearing a jacket and when I jumped the bottom snap caught in the S bracket that attached the swing to the chain and yanked my arm off. Hurt like hell for a couple weeks. I learned to take my jacket off before swinging.

      The thing we used to do on the swings was get going fairly high and then grab the chain of the swing next to us and then while still swinging switch from one swing to the next (but not standing, going from sitting to sitting) all while moving. We’d go from one to the next, lol.

      And I actually did see some kid swing high enough his feet went over the top bar. He was a teen and really had that swing moving. He jumped at the highest point and was a good 2′ above the bar (which was at least 10′ off the ground) and landed like 3′ in front of the swing. He went straight up. All us kids just stood there with our mouths open in awe.

      Our swing set was actually on a raised section full of wood chips and surrounded by wood with stairs leading up to it. My brother used to try and jump out of the section, over the wood to the ground below. He never made it but one time landed right in front of the wood, lost his balance and fell over the edge. He just about broke his arm. Ahh, the memories. He’s 30 and would probably still try it today (might actually make it now).

    43. Our town’s insurance company made the town remove the metal slide from the playground because, you know, children might burn themselves if the slide gets too hot…

    44. Boy, it’s a good thing those people have never been to my house to see what my kids do on the swings. Sometimes I can’t even watch because I’ll try to stop them. They have never been injured and I never gave them a manual so I guess they figured it out. Ah, what brilliant children I have!

    45. I almost hung myself on a wooden slide once. The cord of my coat got stuck between the wood. I think that’s the reason I now regularly see recalls for clothing that have wrong cords!!!
      Thos type of slides have disappeared too…

    46. I watched a documentary this summer called…Where do the children play (I think that was it) and it was chock full of interesting things but I found one segment disturbing – a “play expert” from britian was hired by an american school board to teach children to play – to take little risks in play – like jumping off a swing. At least she was teaching them to take risks! Which is my big concern with helicopter parenting – if children don’t take any risks as children to test themselves when will they, and how much greater will the stakes be?

    47. I almost hung myself on a wooden slide once. The cord of my coat got stuck between the wood. I think that’s the reason I now regularly see recalls for clothing that have wrong cords!!!

      You’re right, drawstrings around the neck are considered a problem now and jackets instead have buttons or snaps, or drawstrings around the *face*.

      This is an example of an easy solution that doesn’t do harm or unreasonably affect our lives (my life has never been affected by the type of drawstring on my jacket!) to prevent an accident that, otherwise, no amount of “being careful” or “knowing better” could prevent. How do you prevent a drawstring from snagging?

    48. To the person asking if anyone has read an owners manual completely, I have to admit that when I was in junior high school, I read the entire WordPerfect manual. But I doubt many people do that.

    49. A couple years back I watched a kid jump off a swing by leaning back at the top of the forward swing, flipping right over, and sticking a perfect landing. I wished I had had the guts to try something like that as a kid.

      Of course, this was followed by his buddy trying the same thing, and landing a perfect faceplant.

    50. Most of this is really nothing new. In 1983, when I was in 5th grade, I went around to the 1st graders and went over the rules of the playground. It was this gory detailed list like you have here. I tried really hard not to roll my eyes.

    51. i think what we all need is a good PSA for this kinda stuff.

      i mean, seriously, show me one kid who has learned anything by reading?😉

      i’m a liar if the press release didn’t come off as an intention to either undermind common sense or just thrill-kill any sense of fun and imagination. it succeeded in doing both for me.

      yeah… a PSA sure would make it “funner.”

    52. I do have to chime in to the previous poster that ranted about her kids being told to sit down in a shopping cart. I’m pretty darned free-range (a story that relates to this story–I broke my arm on a slide while playing chicken at the age of 7, and on my family’s trip to Hawaii a week later, couldn’t get anywhere near the beach. Ah well, doesn’t mean I’m not going to let my daughter learn on her own that if she plays chicken, she’d better win!) but I am one of those that will ask people to have their kids sit down in a cart. One of the most horrific things I ever saw while working in retail was a kid with a cracked skull from a tipped cart. Do I let DD ride in a cart? Sure. Do I let her stand? No. I tell her to pretend she’s an animal in a cage as she peers through the side of the cart. But if she wants to stand, she can walk. I see a simple difference between the cart and the playground: on the playground she has more physical control over the situation. The cart, not so much.

    53. If you think bike helmets are a good idea for kids, then you should consider that a fall from a shopping cart is going to be a lot worse than a fall off a bike.

    54. Can we have some more reports of success stories?
      I’m getting bored of outrage.

    55. I have to say I do remind my kids that they should check the temperature of the slide before climbing up on a hot day, because if they’re wearing shorts it can be really painful (and unexpected) to be burnt by the slide. Metal slides can get as hot as a grill. That’s just teaching them to think a bit, not telling them everything that’s fun is dangerous. Remember free-range isn’t supposed to mean lack of common sense.

    56. As a grandparent I worry that today’s kids are so use to adults oversupervising and safety proofing play that children are unable to negotiate simple playground equipement without walking into an empty swing etc. I even worry that children don’t learn on their own how negotiate social and conflict situations with their peers without adults taking immediate control when all that’s needed is a little after school advise and emotional support from home with parents that encourage kids to try alot of things on their own before the parent jumps in. then complimenting the kid next day if the problem is solved ( most of the time) to build their child’s confidence. I see alot of children who really don’t know what to do and immediately look for an adult to get them out of the most simple basic situation. They seem so lost and dumbstruck it is sad…even scary.

    57. Anyone notice that Merry-Go-Rounds are no longer on playgrounds??? They must have been the ultimate in dangerous!!

    58. Anyone notice that Merry-Go-Rounds are no longer on playgrounds??? They must have been the ultimate in dangerous!!

      The playground I like to go to has a merry-go-round, although I despair of finding a proper see-saw…! (Anybody know of a playground with real see-saws in NYC?)

    59. Seriously, how else are children supposed to learn the rudiments sliding friction?!

    60. Playground equipment. Real complicated stuff. I’m sure my kids appreciate these warnings almost as much as I appreciate Tully’s putting “WARNING: Hot coffee may be hot!” on my coffee cup. I sure would’a never guessed that on my own! I might have tried to use it as eyedrops otherwise and welded my contacts to my eyeballs.

      How ever did I survive to adulthood without this wonderful informative labelling?

      Far as I see it, they’ll learn about slides like the rest of us did. Touch it once and it’s too hot, you’ll think twice about it next time.

      Our playgrounds here in WA don’t seem to have merry-go-rounds either. Of course not! Wouldn’t want little Timmy to not have enough sense figure out when enough’s enough and vomit… or should I say, have a protein spill!

    61. I guess I should be thrown in the slammer for teaching my boys the correct procedure for jumping off of the swings!

      LOL!

    62. hellbent on riding the silver devil

      that made me snort out loud at my desk.

    63. @Jan (9/20/2009 19:44): What kid didn’t do the last one? I did… except I was sitting down. It was fun. As for the rest… I was 4-5, so understandably I didn’t get to enjoy those activities.

      @Keith (9/20/2009 20:14): Hopefully that’s all the kid broke. In all seriousness, though, the best way to protect America’s children is to stop trying to protect them so much.

      @Stephanie (9/21/2009 04:00): Yep, that’s what most people don’t understand. By letting kids have fun, and yes, take a spill every so often, we are really strengthening them. Very similar to how adults don’t get nearly as many colds as kids… they have already experienced most of the forms of the cold virus. See later in my post for a pretty extreme example of this that I suppose has something to do with: 1. Drinking milk (stronger bones), 2. Exercise (stronger muscles), and 3. Experience (that is, proper techniques and the afroementioned physical body experience).

      @Jen Connelly (9/21/2009 10:47): Wow. That kid is an example of what I’m talking about lower in the post… oh and one other thing: Would that teen have been caught dead at a playground had it been an 8-foot swing, or no swing at all with just the wimpy baby-approved stuff seen in most new constructions today?

      @Tansy (9/22/2009 09:41): Nope, the ultimate in dangerous was likely a piece of equipment mentioned later in my post.

      I am currently a 17-year-old boy in Tulsa, OK. Understandably, most of my playground experiences were with the new plastic stuff. Back when I was 4 years old I often went to Whiteside Park, which had a mix of fiberglass and painted wood. I remember a boy named Joe who used to be there many times… he could swing really high on the swings which were still the old chain kind (albeit with a plastic/rubber seat; and they were only 8 or 10 feet tall). AFAIK they still have the same equipment today, including the plastic 10-12′ straight and steep slide (not too many slides are straight anymore). Another park, Darlington, had and still has all-metal equipment (though it’s a really small structure). However, LaFortune is the one I want to write about here. As late as 10 years ago they had old wooden equipment (with metal slides and bars). I remember some very high monkey bars (maybe 8 feet?), a swinging bridge (had to be pretty small… maybe 10′ long tops), and 3 slides, each bigger than the other (top one was maybe 10 feet). Back in 2000 or 2001 or so they changed to new plastic equipment. At the time I was very excited since they had changed from a relatively small structure to two large ones. In 2004 I had the opportunity to visit a playground untouched by litigation-fearful government. My great uncle was about to pass away, and the family took a 1-day trip to Aurora, MO, to see him one last time. Apparently not wanting me to see him in his poor condition, my mom found a playground and told my dad to play with me there (I was 10 at the time). That is an experience I will never forget… there were an old-style metal seesaw, a metal merry-go-round, and a very steep metal slide that had to be at least 15-20 feet tall. Being accustomed to plastic all my life, I was at first afraid of the big slide. From what I recall I eventually got on it and loved it… as well as the other stuff there. From what I see on Youtube some places still have this old-school equipment… but they are mostly in other countries (Germany pops up a lot). After reading this article I realize what has truly become of society today. This is not simply a problem with playgrounds, it extends to all aspects of daily life. The American legal system is becoming too constricting to organizations, often doling out six-figure amounts for accidents that deserve more reasonable payments of zero to four figures (case in point: Liebeck v. McDonald’s Restaurants 1994, aka the Coffee Case). Though consumers may think they are getting a better product from the additional regulations, they are the ones who are really paying for them. Thus the governments force unintended mandatory “insurance policies” upon the people… businesses have to pay more and skimp on the product to meet regulations, and the consumer ends up paying for a few people’s troubles in the form of increased prices or inferior products. Change needs to occur in the law schools before it can occur on the playground.

      If you are older (or have relatives living in rural communities), you may remember the slides and swingsets being bigger than they are today. Many probably tell you that “you were smaller, everything was big”. In most cases they’d be right. However, in this one solitary case, I can confidently say that they are wrong and you are right. While I’ve never (as far as I can recall) seen a 12-16′ swingset, there are [hard-to-find] pictures that prove that they existed. As for the slides, just read my post. Despite the extreme difficulty in finding pictures, I am absolutely certain that they existed (and still do, though straight slides of all kinds over 8 feet are a dying species).

      One particular piece of playground equipment that intrigues me due to its unique history is the Giant Stride. Unlike most playground equipment, these were mostly removed in the 1950s, long before the Age of Litigation began circa 1984 (date chosen on purpose). Google “980 playground equipment” and read the comments on the blog to see more about this intriguing piece of equipment… sure it was probably the most dangerous piece, but it was also the most popular in places that had it. Supposedly Sunrise Park in Paris, Illinois, still has a couple (unless they were removed after the 2008 ruling that any park with one automatically loses any lawsuit related to playground injuries, regardless of the scope of the injury and regardless of what equipment actually caused the injury)

      Here’s a link: http://www.parisillinois.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=128&Itemid=148

      If they’re still there, anyone care to go and take a video for Youtube?

      Also, just something I’m curious about. After reading many comments on blogs, I get the feeling that kids back then were more resilient than kids today. Kids back then could fall four feet without it hurting much, and eight feet without getting more than a scraped knee, maybe a sprained wrist at the worst (and often these high falls of 10′ or so were from the aforementioned Giant Strides). Kids in the old days used to jump from 10-foot barn roofs for fun, and one particular comment on another blog described kids purposely jumping down 20-30 feet to slightly inclined ground and getting little more than a sprained ankle. I don’t know how they did it… there wasn’t a secretly required Parkour class in elementary schools back then, was there?

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