Believe it or not, warmer days are on their way. And that means that it's time to wipe the dirt — and snow — off of your backyard play equipment and make sure that it's ready for another season of use. Winter can be rough on all parts of swing sets — plus slides, monkey bars, climbing walls, forts, and all sorts of backyard play gear. So, now is a good time to give all of your outdoor play equipment a once-over, to size up any repairs that may need to be made and make sure that everything is safe for your kids to use.  

This safety-proofing checklist was sent to me by Swing-N-Slide, and I thought it would be a good one to share. Here's how to make sure that your backyard play equipment is ready for play:

Before they play...
  • Check all metal parts for rust or other deterioration
  • Provide your children with a soft landing – proper surfacing is key
  • Replace any deteriorated parts with new parts
  • Lubricate metallic moving parts
  • Check all protective coverings on bolts, pipes, edges and corners — and replace if loose, cracked or missing
  • Tighten all hardware
  • Cut off all protruding threaded ends of bolts and other fasteners and remove any sharp edges
  • Ensure equipment is on level ground, no less than 6 feet from any structure or obstruction such as a fence, garage or tree
  • Adjust all swings for a minimum 8-inch clearance between the swing and the ground surface
  • Use a water seal on your gym set to protect wood and prevent cracking and warping
During play season...
  • Check all nuts and bolts twice monthly for tightness and tighten as required.
  • Oil all metallic moving parts monthly
  • Check all hardware and equipment for sharp edges twice monthly
  • Check swing seats and chains monthly during the usage season for evidence of deterioration
  • Remind your children of safe play rules including appropriate swinging space, sharing with others and being polite to other children
Are your kids ready to hit the swing set?

Related toy safety story on MNN: Toy Safety: Were these toys ever a good idea?

Safety check: Is your swing set ready for summer?
We've got you covered with a checklist to help make sure your backyard play equipment is safe for the kids.