Tree House Safety for Kids

A treehouse to children is a place to call their own. The vision is of five bikes leaning against a tree with five little boys huddled in their tree house telling secrets and designing a most important sign that reads, ‘no girls allowed’.

…Or you might find the same scenario with five little girls instead.

There’s nothing like a hideaway for children, and a treehouse can be exciting and entertaining  as well as adventurous. However, there should always be rules and precautions put into force in order to keep the children safe in such a high environment.

Before you get started

kids-tree-houseDo you need a building permit to build a treehouse for your child? Some neighborhoods do have municipal regulations. However, it depends on the nature of the house you’ll be building.  Are your neighbors going to have it in their vision when they look out the window? Will it infringe on anyone’s privacy. More often than not, a neighborhood regulatory group wouldn’t become involved unless a neighbor makes a complaint.

Tree damage

We would certainly be kidding ourselves if we thought that treehouses do not do damage to trees.  Just stomping by foot at the base of the tree tightens the soil, which can be harmful to the roots. So, to minimize this damage, support the tree by putting fasteners, but not too close as it can cause weakness to that part of the tree.

The height of your treehouse

If you can’t be assured of your child’s safety on the street, in the backyard or in a playground, how then can you guarantee his or her safety ten feet off the ground? And that is the standard…ten feet. However, at the bottom or the base of your tree, it would be advisable to add a good foot of mulch. Sand, gravel or even wood chips can still harm your child in the event they fall, so mulch is the best form of cushioning. Remember, kids are daring and it doesn’t take much for them to jump down rather than take the ladder you for them.

Tree Limbs

Thick, thick, thick.  At least a foot thick.  

tree-limbTry to keep in mind that twelve inches spell s-a-f-e-t-y, keeping in mind that you’re not the one picking the tree for your house, the tree is out there picking you. Just like people, each and every tree is different so let them guide you. Allow for its growth and consider sunlight.  When you find that tree, the first thing you want to look for is rotting wood, peeling wood and signs of distress. It might be wise to call in a tree specialist before you make the choice yourself on which branch or two you believe is suitable for building a treehouse.

Wooden Walls or wooden rails

Walls.  First of all, the kids will be using this as a personal hideaway. Why in the world would they want everyone to see them tell their secrets through guard rails? Additionally, walls are safer.

 Final precautions

  • Never allow a child under six years old to go into the treehouse alone.

  • Build a real ladder onto the tree to the treehouse rather than a rope ladder. In fact, in order to avoid accidents of strangulation, it is best to keep all ropes and trains away from the treehouse.

  • It is generally not recommended to allow kids to sleep overnight in a tree house. Instead, do a family backyard campout with a tent and all. Get some good sleeping bags for the kids and even some sleeping sacks (link) for the younger crowd. A wearable blanket for toddlers allows new walkers the freedom to walk around with them.

Bottom line, it’s all about the children. What you are considering to build for them should afford them adventure, happiness and safety. Look into permits, keep it at a safe height, stay away from ropes and chains and surround the children with walls to keep their secrets safe.

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