Swinging Through Summer

When it comes to summertime backyard entertainment for kids, there are so many more options than there were even ten years ago. The standard swing set and slide have taken a back seat to more creative equipment and backyard fun is only limited by your imagination. There are a ton of online resources for finding – or building – your kid’s favorite backyard jungle gym, swing, ropes course or tree house.

Some of the coolest designs are hanging swings shaped like boats, motorcycles, airplanes, skateboards – the list goes on. Why not toss out that old tire swing and replace it with a space rocket?

Of course, the most important common denominator with all these creative playthings is securing them with sturdy, rust-resistant hooks that are carefully anchored into place.

If you are planning to hang a swing from a tree, be sure – first of all – that the tree can handle the combined weight of your child and the swing itself. The last thing we want is our little space explorer to plummet to earth in his space capsule.

Heavy duty swing hangers, firmly embedded in a beam, will ensure that your child is safe as she soars along on her imagination.

If you already have a swing set or a jungle gym, try switching out the swings for rings and watch your child test the limits of his strength and agility. Stainless steel S hooks or snap hooks are the best choice because they will not rust and they can handle weight and motion. For kids who really put their equipment through a workout, you may want to choose heavy-duty cast-iron swing hangers.

Other choices are brass or die-cast zinc. But, while they are rust-resistant, that does not mean that they won’t eventually rust. You don’t want to be rifling through your medical files to see when your child had her last tetanus shot as she accidentally cuts or scrapes herself on a rusty old hook or snap.

And don’t forget – as your kids grow, so does their weight and the need for sturdy hooks, bolts and snaps that will accommodate their rapidly growing young bodies. You should check each piece of equipment at the beginning of the season, making sure it is rated for your child’s weight and level of physical activity.

If your swing has seen several seasons of sun and fun, be sure to test the chain links for signs of rust or wear. Same is true for the S-hooks that make it so easy to interchange your jungle gym equipment. Always err on the side of doting parental caution. Visually and manually inspect all outdoor equipment before junior takes his swing on a ride around the moon and back.

If you have a ropes course, it’s also important to check for fraying or looseness. If the rope looks like it’s starting to pull out of its hardware, best to invest in some new equipment.

Your local hardware store should carry most of the items you will need to ensure that your backyard remains a safe and fun place for your kids this summer.

Henssgen Hardware, located in Glens Falls NY, has been supplying snap hooks and other rigging hardware for 39 years. Visit their website and their online catalog for more information.

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