Many of us remember the cheap thrill of almost tipping over your rickety metal backyard swing set as child. The swing beam legs would pry away from the soft soil, and you’d wonder if this was the moment that would upset the entire play set.

We’ve come a long way since then. And just like you wouldn’t allow your children to ride in a car without a seat belt, we know that there are better, safer options when shopping for play equipment for today’s child. Here are nine things to look for when buying playground equipment that will ensure a safer, smarter investment for your family.

Avoid Non-Expandable Swing Sets

Think about how quickly your child grows out of his or her shoes. Play systems aren’t that different. Rainbow swing sets are modular and expandable for a “grow-into” rather than a “grow-out-of” design.

Want to learn more about which play accessories are right for your child? Check out our post about How to Choose Age Appropriate Play System Accessories.

Top Heavy Swing Sets are a Safety Hazard

Many swing set companies create higher platforms for longer slides resulting in a top-heavy structure. Rainbow recommends that all parents conduct the “Grab and Shake Test” with any potential play set. Where child safety is concerned, lightweight, wobbly swing sets just won’t cut it.

All Rainbow Play Systems applies basic geometric rules to all of their designs to create a safer swing set. Rainbow swing sets are built on a wide base design with an equilateral triangle to prevent tipping. And their deck height never exceeds the width of the base of the fort to keep the play system from becoming too top heavy.

Avoid Vertical Climbing Swing Set Features

You wouldn’t prop a ladder perfectly vertical on your house to safely get to the roof. You lean it at an angle for better stability and footing. The same principle goes for climbing features on your child’s play system.

Rainbow’s swing set ladders and climbing apparatuses are always angled for easier, safer climbing.

Avoid Wooden Dowels on Swing Set Ladders

Wooden dowels cost far less than pipe, but they can easily crack and split, causing your child to take a nasty, unexpected tumble or worse. Instead, seek out steel for strength.

Rainbow Play Systems swing sets feature sturdy, vinyl-coated or powder-coated steel pipe instead.

Don’t Buy From Photos Only

It’s hard to judge a play set’s size by photograph alone. Rainbow Play Systems of Texas has several showrooms where you can try out several play system set ups to experience which accessories your child enjoys the most and which designs are best suited for your home.

Know What Options Are Included (And What’s Not!)

Many swing set catalogs show photos of the loaded swing set with all the bells and whistles. Ask for a list of all the included options when you’re being quoted a price. Be cautions of “shown with options” disclaimers on advertising materials.

Inspect Kit Swing Sets First

If you are shopping for a swing set at the toy store or big box store, ask a sales associate if you can inspect it before your buy it. Most toy stores only display a photo of the swing set, along with a small sample of the wood. It’s very hard to judge the size and stability of a toy store swing set by just looking at a picture.

Understand the Fine Print

When you are buying playground equipment, especially if you’re shopping online, be sure to read and understand the fine print. We recommend you try to inspect the language and details of each swing set brand you are considering. And be sure to check the durability and safety features for yourself.

Read the Warranty Carefully

Avoid pro-rated warranties. With a pro-rated warranty, you may incur some of the costs of repair or replacement. However, non-pro-rated warranties provide full protection and you will not have to cover any costs for replacement or repair.

Rainbows have one of the best warranties in the industry. Their lifetime warranty includes all redwood wooden components for their Sunshine,, Rainbow, Monster, King Kong and Imaginary Play Series. Their non-wooden parts typically have a one or five-year limited lifetime warranty.