Grounding A Play Structure With Cement Footings

>A couple months ago we had a *H*U*G*E* windstorm.  The kind where you lay there at night listening to roof tiles rippling across your roof.  Every noise has a price and the volume dictates the mass of the expense.  We woke to find this disaster in our backyard:

The day prior the play structure had looked like this:

I half way expected to find the wicked witch's feet sticking out from underneath, but I had just hung up with your mom so I knew she was okay. ( Please excuse the quality of the picture taken through a wet window, we were so awe struck from wind's magnitude I totally forgot to document the destruction).  After pushing our Costco play structure back up on it's feet (a job meant for 5, but done by 3), we cautioned the kids from getting near it, nicknaming it "The Death Trap." (Another reason why we should have parents sign a waiver before allowing their children to play here).  My husband made four cement footings which is simple before a structure is built, but definitely can present challenges when done after it's complete.

If you live in an area that can face some strong winds, I highly advise you to consider cement footings.  I also suggest you do this before you completely build the play structure (unless you're up for a challenge).

Dan winched up the play structure with his "widow maker" (this thing scares the crap cookies right out of me by it's name alone) and then dug holes.

He filled the holes with cardboard sona tubes that he then filled with cement so that they could meet the base of the structure.  He placed the support stakes that came with the play structure into the cement.  These would not have worked with the 8 inches of gravel we have under the play structure

After the footings were dry, we removed the winch/hi-lift (aka widow maker) and my mother and I (the other wenches) pulled the structure over the metal spokes....yay Mom!

After he completed the other side, Dan drilled screws into the holes of the support spokes (which were basically rebar with a washer welded to it).

We still need to order parts from Costco so we can reassemble the swings.  My kids still don't know how to pump so I'm not in the biggest hurry ;-)