Playgrounds can be an amazing place for children to have fun and entertain themselves while keeping physically active.

Modern playgrounds have come a long way from swing sets and monkey bars. Features now include wave slides, rock-climbing walls and even steering wheels and telescopes.

Here are some helpful tips about making your playground equipment purchase.

Buy the Fire, in Oxford, sells high-quality playground equipment and, according to owner Dianne Ferry, the most important safety aspect is finding the ideal location for the equipment in your yard.

“A safe play zone is an area around your play system that transforms your yard into a safe and attractive play environment,” Ferry explained. “Location should be on even ground with a 6-foot safety surface in all directions of the playground and free from trees, garages, wires and rocks.”

For ground cover beneath the equipment, Ferry said, “For the safest environment, use rubber mulch with a depth of three to four inches for the base. Or wood mulch with a depth of six inches.”

Buy the Fire carries Creative Plaything products including Creative Play sets and the Playtime series.

Creative Playthings follows the American Society for Testing and Materials voluntary safety standards for playground equipment.

“The pricing starts at $799 and ends only at the end of your imagination,” she said. “And the pricing includes delivery and installation by factory-trained installers.”

Most sets can be added to with additional equipment such as fun decks, rock walls and club houses.

Lowe’s in Auburn also carries playground equipment, both in store and online.

“We carry Swing & Slide products,” said assistant manager, Nelson Peters. “They are kits that can be bought, slid into a truck and assembled as a family.”

Price ranges at Lowe’s are from $500 to $1,000 with larger kits online ranging from $1,200 to $2,000.

“The sky is the limit,” said Peters. “Depending on the child’s age, you can add climbing walls, tubular slides or picnic tables.”

Home Depot of Auburn has numerous kits as well.

“We carry Swing & Slide brand kits,” explained assistant manager, Gerry Maskalenko, “as well as many individual pieces like swing sets or accessories to expand the kits. Prices range from $200 to $900 with more online to choose from.”

Swing & Slide sets and accessories sold at Lowe’s and Home Depot are designed to meet or exceed the strict safety standard established by the American Society for Testing and Materials.

Besides buying ASTM labeled equipment, adults need to be sure children play safe as well:

Carefully supervise young children.

Do not allow pushing or shoving.

Keep tripping hazards away from area.

Never allow ropes or pet leashes to be attached to equipment.

Periodically check for rust, sharp or broken parts.

Make sure ramps and guardrails are secure.

A playground can be an essential tool in children playing freely to use their imagination and spontaneity while helping with mental and physical development.

“Children develop balance and muscle as they play,” said Ferry. “Their imaginations are limitless as they become pirates in a fort or with friends in a clubhouse. They never tire of the play systems.”

For any concerns about the safety of an existing swing set or playground, you can check out the product recall finder at

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