The days are long gone when parents could put up a wendy house or play house in their garden made from scrap pieces of wood and let the children clamber all over it. The litigation conscious attitude that seems to have worked its way over to the United Kingdom from America seems to have put paid to many amateur efforts.
Sensible Approach to Children’s Safety
There is a point to ensuring the safety of children while they are playing in a garden though, as long as it’s not taken to ridiculous extremes. Children cannot be so over protected that they are unable to enjoy themselves and they will always fall over or hurt themselves in innocent play. But it does make sense to protect them from the most basic dangers.
With a play house or wendy house in the garden this means making sure that the structure itself is safe, that any stairs or other play equipment are robust enough to take the weight of children and that there aren’t any nasty sharp edges that can cut into the skin.
Stability of a Wendy House
With regard to the stability of a wendy house or play house then there are two schools of thought. One is to make the structure strong enough to take a lot of weight, in which case it needs to either be securely pegged down, or it should be heavy and stable enough to resist being turned over.
The second approach is for the structure to be very lightweight so that it can turn over but won’t trap or hurt a child. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with either approach, the lightweight approach is probably better for younger children and the robust approach more suited to older ones. The real risk is with a structure that falls between these two extremes – one that is heavy enough to hurt a child but not so heavy that it will stay upright of its own accord.
The relevant safety legislation covering a toy such as a play house or wendy house to use in a garden is British Standard EN71 which is aligned with the relevant European Standard. This covers many aspects of toy manufacture and use but the relevant areas for a wendy house or play house are as follows:
- Flammability – the structure may catch fire but there will be time to get out of it
- Poisons – no dangerous substances such as lead paint have been used in the manufacturing process.
- Activity toys – a whole section covering this type of toy in particular which looks at parts that stick out, stability and areas where children’s clothing can be trapped.
- Mechanical – making sure no part can choke, be swallowed, and stab or trap a child.
- Compounds – set limits for compounds used in manufacture which could cause problems if licked or eaten.
So as long as the play house or wendy house that you are thinking of buying has achieved this standard then you can be reasonably sure that your child will be as safe as any other while at play in the garden.