So your children have been begging you for a swing set and you have finally cracked?
As much as you will want your kids to have fun, one of your prime concerns will be safety.
And you may be tempted to buy a metal swing set due to their more appealing price tags.
But are metal swing sets safe?
Let’s take a closer look.
Are Metal Swing Sets Safe?
Metal swing sets are just as safe as any other type of swing set, the greater danger is posed by the buyer not installing the swing set properly or in an adequate location in their backyard. The only real risks unique to metal swing sets are that they will conduct and hold heat and that they can rust.
Concern #1: Heat
The one major downfall of metal swing sets, in comparison to wood or vinyl swing sets, is the fact they can get very hot.
Most metal swing sets are made of galvanized steel, which absorbs and holds heat.
Whilst you can position your swing set in your yard so it is in the shade as much as possible, there will always be periods of the day when it is in full view of the sun’s rays.
Usually, a metal swing set won’t be hot enough to cause serious and long-term damage, but it can be hot enough to give your child a shock and result in a few minutes of stinging legs or hands and some tears.
But if you do live somewhere that experiences long and very hot summers it is something you need to be aware of, as it might make your swing set unusable for vast swatches of time.
Particular hotspots (both literally and figuratively) are the slide and the swings. Not so much the swing seat, but the chains that hold the swing. Although having said this, a wooden swing set will also have metal chains.
Even when it is very cold a metal swing set can be affected negatively.
Moisture will freeze and stay on metal swing sets, speeding up the rusting process. In comparison, moisture simply evaporates from a wooden swing set.
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Concern #2: Rust
No matter how much care you take of it, or how much POR-15 you use, metal swing sets are prone to rusting.
Not only can rust compromise the structural stability of the swing set, but it can also be a risk if your child cuts themselves on it.
But of course, wooden swing sets have the same problem with rot, which can also make the swing set unstable, and splinters from wood are equally if not more likely to cut your child.
Then of course even wooden swing sets will most probably have swings with metal chains that will rust.
So unfortunately rust is likely to be an issue no matter what type of play set you buy.
Concern #3: Steel Quality
On the whole, a metal swing set will be very durable but you do need to pay attention to the quality of the frame.
It goes without saying that the thicker gauge steel the frame is made of, the longer it will last.
Quality stainless steel swing sets will be at the upper end of the metal swing set price range, but they are still likely to be cheaper than a mid to high-end wooden swing set.
If you are going metal, get the thickest gauge steel available, it will be safer and last longer.
You can also view our roundup of the best swing sets for older kids, but some truly quality options.
Concern #4: Lightning!
I hadn’t even thought about including this as a concern, but then I read a forum post where someone had said they had a fear of lightning, and they didn’t want to order a metal swing set because of the risk it might attract lightning to their backyard.
To most people this might sound like an overreaction, but actually a couple of other people contributed to the thread saying they too had a fear of lightning which made them nervous about buying a metal swing set.
And after all, fears are irrational things we can’t control.
So let’s put it in some perspective:
- Odds of being killed in a car crash: 1 in 101
- Odds of dying as a result of choking on food: 1 in 2,745
- Odds of dying from sunstroke: 1 in 6,368
- Odds of dying from a hornet, wasp or bee sting: 1 in 57,825
- Odds of dying from a dog attack: 1 in 69,016
- Odds of dying after being struck by lightning: Around 1 in a million
So to say it is extremely unlikely is an understatement.
On top of that, if your children did see a storm sweeping in it is unlikely they would stay outside playing on a metal swing set!
Swing Set Safety, Not Metal Swing Set Safety
Listed above are some unique risks associated with metal swing sets that are not concerns for wooden swing sets.
But then again there are risks associated with wooden swing sets not associated with metal swing sets.
They can rot, they can splinter, they require more upkeep, the wood can warp and split and they are more likely to be prone to insect infestations.
When it comes to safety there are a number of other things you should consider that are far more important than what material a swing set is made of:
- Where in your yard are you putting it? Is it flat? Are there any hazards nearby such as trees, fences, wires, etc? Will it be in the shade most of the time?
- What if anything are you putting underneath it? At some point your child is going to fall from the swing set, that is a guarantee. If they fall on something like rubber mulch or wood chips, it will be safer than dry and hard grass.
- Who is putting it together? A properly installed swing set is much safer than one put together incorrectly!
A good metal swing set is just as safe as any other swing set, swing set safety is much more dependent upon a number of other external factors.
You could have the best and safest metal swing set in the world, but if you install it right next to an overhanging tree your child can jump onto and swing from, or near a sturdy fence that gets in the way as they come off of a swing, it isn’t going to be safe.
But that isn’t because of the material the swing set is made from, it is down to a lack of awareness on your part.
A metal swing set has its downsides, they will attract heat and they can rust, but they also require less maintenance, are cheaper and easier to assemble.
You could say when it comes to safety, it is all swings and roundabouts…