Backyard Adventure: New Ways to Have Fun Outdoors

Backyard Adventure: New Ways to Have Fun Outdoors

There are more choices now than ever for backyard fun!
Web swings, zip lines and obstacle courses are bringing theme park thrills close to home!
Kip Doyle

Encouraging outdoor activity is a challenge for parents with the lure of smartphones and video games keeping kids indoors. If your backyard play space is being ignored, maybe it's time for an adventurous upgrade to generate more excitement? Here are some additions to consider. 

 

Web Swings

Swing sets are a fixture of any playground, providing thrills for children and adults of all ages. From the classic rope and board to the tire swing hanging from the tree - swing sets of all varieties provide timeless fun.

Newer to the playground scene are web swings. This update on the tire swing design is much lighter (and stays cooler) than its predecessor, yet very durable and capable of holding hundreds of pounds thanks to its braided rope design. 

 

Slack Line Obstacle Course

You've probably seen slack lines in use before - they are those tightly ratcheted straps that are used for tight rope-style exercises and activities. The same concept is applied to a number of obstacle course kits available now.

An industrial strength slack line is secured overheard with customizable attachments hanging below. Kids can train "Ninja Warrior-style," bounding from rings to monkey bars to rope knots to get from start to finish. 

Most kits are rated at around 250 lbs. for users, allowing many adults to get in on the fun safely. 

 

Zip Lines

No outdoor adventure park is complete without a zip line. Now you can bring the thrill of zip lining home with backyard zip line kits. Proper set up is key with these units, which require steel cable lines to be tightly secured for safe usage. Zip lines can be 150 feet or more, and many include a braking system.

Zip line users should wear tight fitting clothes and keep their hair secure to avoid tangling or pinching between the zip line and the connecting handles. Dangling jewelry should be removed before using a zip line. 

 

Trampolines

The backyard trampoline is a source of amusement as well as concern for watchful parents, and for good reason. The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages the use of trampolines at home.

If you choose to have a trampoline in your backyard, pick a highly rated trampoline featuring safety nets and appropriate padding. Place the trampoline in a safe, clear spot and limit activity to one person at a time.

Also, consider one of the spring-free trampolines now available on the market, which can help avoid many of the safety hazards present in traditional trampolines.

Medical professionals recommend that children under 6 years old not use trampolines. All trampoline use by children should be monitored by adults. 

 

Surfaces

Falls and spills are bound to happen in any play area, so a safe landing surface is key. Rubber mulch and rubber mats are sometimes used at school playgrounds and public parks, but they tend to become hot on warm days and can burn sensitive skin.

Sand is a common option, but natural wood mulch may be the best choice for a playground surface. It will cushion falls and is free of chemicals often seen in colored or treated mulch.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a 9-inch deep layer of protection that extends six feet beyond the equipment. 

 

Liability

Now that you've planned your backyard adventure park, will your insurance cover everything you have in mind? That's a good question for David Hodge, vice president of insurance at AAA Western and Central New York.

Various home insurers have different criteria for what they cover. That's why it's best to check with an insurance expert before installing a backyard play set.

"Someone might have a unique project in mind, and if they call us, we can shop the our (insurance) carriers we have to find the best option for you," Hodge said.

Homeowners don't want to add a feature to their yard only to find out that it's unapproved during a home inspection. Checking in with AAA insurance agents ahead of time can help avoid that, Hodge said. AAA Insurance can even take some of the guess work out of pricing your bigger projects.

"Depending on the timeframe and the project, we can give them a green light and can even give an estimate on the price of the project," he said.

 

Thinking about upgrading your backyard play space? AAA Insurance agents are ready to answer your questions!

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