Fatal MN swing set accidents raise safety concerns

Published: Aug. 14, 2018 at 6:30 PM CDT
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After two fatal accidents in Minnesota, local health officials are shedding light on swing set safety.

Brett Berg, Registered Nurse at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire says injuries related to kids playing on playground equipment are common.

Berg says playgrounds and backyards carry a lot of hazards for children, especially swing sets. Two Minnesota children, one as young as four years-old were killed in separate swing set accidents this month. "This last one, the piece of wood actually came down, sounds like a traumatic brain injury...hit the kid as he was swinging, kind of a freak accident but it does happen," said Berg.

Although the recent fatal accidents happened on home backyard swing sets, health officials say parents should remain alert at any playground. "The biggest issue that you have to look at is the safety of the equipment they are on,” said Berg. He recommends parents keep an eye on the chains of swing sets as they can cause many injuries. "The older chains are usually just the chain link that go together, newer ones actually have plastic straps around them to keep them from wrapping around issue with that we can see is strings from sweatshirts, strings from anything can get caught on stuff and wrapped around the child's neck," he said.

Berg says parents should test equipment out, either on a public playground or in a home yard, to make sure it is safe before allowing children to use it. He says backyard equipment can get rusty and unreliable after the cold winter months, and snowy weather, potentially causing hazards. "If you’re an adult give it a tug, obviously if you give enough weight on these things, sometimes you're going to show if there's weakness there,” he said.

He says parents should also be mindful of clothing as strings and hoods can get caught in equipment. He also recommends parents talk to their children about how to stay safe and have fun.