Patio And Outdoor Furniture Hammock Safety And Health Benefits

Learn how to safely set up and operate your patio and outdoor hammock to maximize its health benefits.

Relaxing in a hammock in your backyard or on your deck can be an enjoyable and healthy way to spend an afternoon. Following a few simple hammock safety tips will prevent serious neck and back injuries and allow you to enjoy your hammock for years to come.

1. Set up your hammock properly

If you are using a hammock stand here are some things to consider. Match the type of hammock with the correct type of stand. Some types of hammocks require specific stands. Be sure to consult your owner's manual to find out which stands are appropriate for your hammock. Make sure you read the assembly instructions before you begin putting the stand together. Check to make sure all the parts are included. If parts are missing contact the manufacturer or store you purchased the stand from to obtain the missing parts. Don't try to substitute parts. Someone could get hurt if your stand is put together wrong. Check for loose or mismatched nuts or bolts when you set the stand up. Examine the hooks and rings that will attach your hammock to your stand. Pull on them and to make sure that they are attached correctly. Once attached, the hammock should not have much slack. If the hammock is not pulled tight enough you will hit the stand or the ground when you swing.

If you aren't going to use a hammock stand you will need to find trees or posts from which to hang your hammock. First, you will need to determine how much space is needed between the trees or posts. To do this measure your hammock to see how long it is. Measure from one end ring to the other with the hammock spread out on the ground. Add one foot to this measurement. This is the amount of space needed between the trees or posts in order for your hammock to hang properly. For most hammocks this distance will be between 11 and 13 feet.

The trees you select need to be sturdy enough to hold the weight of hammock and its occupants. The maple you planted last summer probably won't work. If you can bend the tree over with your bare hands try something a bit sturdier.

The hammock needs to be high enough off the ground that it will not drag when fully loaded. To achieve this you should place the ends of your hammock at least 6 feet up the trees or posts.

To attach your hammock to the trees or posts use screw-in hooks or eye bolts. To install an eye bolt you'll need to drill a hole through the tree. The eye bolt should fit through this hole and stick out about 2 inches on the other side. This will allow you to thread on a washer and nut. Chain-link connectors along with eye bolts are the safest way to connect the hammock to a tree or post. Screw-in hooks can suddenly pull loose. Always check the hammock-to-tree attachments before using your hammock.

If no trees are available you may need to install posts on which to hang your hammock. You will want to use sturdy posts. Something like a 4 x 4 or 6 x 6 will work nicely. The post should be at least 10 feet long. This will allow for 7 feet above ground and 2 to 3 feet below ground. Dig a hole that is wider at the base than at the top. This will help stabilize the posts if you live in an area where freezing and thawing occurs. The safest posts should be encased in cement and the cement should be allowed to dry for at least a week before you set up your hammock.

Once the hammock is hanging, measure from its lowest point to the ground. This distance should be 3 to 4 feet to allow for obstacle-free swinging.

2. Observe weight limits

Read your hammock's owner's manual or safety information for weight limits for the hammock. If you have purchased a separate stand read those safety instructions as well. They will list the recommended weights for the stand. If you overload your hammock or stand injuries can occur.

3. Prevent injuries from falls

Balance is the key to preventing most hammock injuries caused by falling. Proper entrance and exiting skills are necessary. If you are new to hammocks have someone else hold the hammock for you while you practice getting in and out a few times. To get into the hammock, sit as close to the center of the hammock as possible. Hold onto the hammock with both hands until you get your balance. Then, if you are planning to recline, slowing twist and lean back into the hammock lengthwise while bringing your legs and feet into the hammock. To exit, hold on to the hammock with both hands, one hand on each side of your body. Slowly sit up and swing your legs to the side. Put your feet firmly on the ground. Get your balance and stand up. To prevent tipping when getting in and out, move slowly and deliberately with no sudden moves.

Be sensible and don't swing wildly in your hammock. If you are sharing the hammock with another person keep safety in mind. Let your hammock partner know if you are going to leave the hammock. That way they can gain their balance and be prepared for your exit. Hammocks with wooden end bars tend to flip easier than those without the wooden bars.

Even with all these precautions falls will still happen. Always keep the area around your hammock clear of debris. Anything with sharp edges should be moved away from the hammock. Make sure your hammock is positioned away from walls so that there is no risk of bumping into the wall while you are swinging.

4. Examine your hammock for wear and tear

Check the hammock for wear and tear before you use it each time.

Hooks can pull out of their anchors, ropes become twisted and frayed, and chains rust and kink. Hammock stands can crack and rust when exposed to the elements. To prevent excessive wear and tear to your hammock, bring it inside when not in use. Keep the hammock dry and hang it to let it air out completely. Check wooden end bars for cracks. Check the joints of the hammock stand for wear. If any of your hammock parts are worn contact the manufacturer for replacement parts.

5. Use caution around children

Always supervise children around your hammock. Children can easily get tangled up in the hammock or supporting ropes and chains or injure themselves falling out of the hammock. Do not allow children to use the hammock for play. Do not let children push each other in the hammock as they would a swing. If you are not able to supervise children on the hammock then remove it or them from the environment.

Now that you know how to safely use your hammock, kick back and enjoy some of the health benefits hammocks can provide. The main health benefits come from simply relaxing and letting go of your daily stresses. Relaxing can lower your blood pressure. For some people the weightless swinging of the hammock can relieve back and neck pain. Others find that sleeping in a hammock can provide their best rest ever. So grab a book or your significant other and spend some time today relaxing in your hammock.

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