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Dad's Safety Tips for Building a Treehouse

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Paul Banas   Print
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Like every guy, you’ve probably always said you’d get your kids the treehouse you never had as a kid. There’s no time like the present to create a treehouse while the kids are still kids. But, like a lot of stuff that has changed since our childhoods, you should be more aware of safety concerns than when you were little. The Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus Ohio reports that 2700 kids go to the ER each year from “treehouse-related” injuries. Here are some good safety guidelines before you hammer in that first nail:

1. Plan for an area where you can put down a good bed of mulch to cushion an inevitable fall. The mulch should be at least nine inches deep. Skip material like sand, wood chips or gravel that will not offer enough of a break from a fall.

2. Find a spot where you build not more than 10 feet off the ground. That’s a high height for a little kid, but approaching a danger zone for falls.

3. If you’re building right on branches, look for ones at least eight inches in diameter. Check for rot to make sure they are sturdy and will last a while. Look for fungus or crumbly bark which could be warning signs.

4. If you go above four feet, install walls, rather than guardrails, that go up 38 inches.

Experts suggest not allowing any attaching ropes or swings, but I can’t imagine having a treehouse without a climbing rope. Ropes and chains can be a strangulation hazard though so you might consider how you will monitor kids’ usage. You might consider tying down a climbing rope so it’s not loose on either end, or attach it to a heavy tire swing that can’t be lifted in a position that would create this type of hazard.

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