Playground Slides are for Fun, not for Cooking

Updated: Sep 16, 2019

Summer is here and the kids are excited to spend their time on the playground, but are the playgrounds ready for them?

The weather in the inter-mountain west can be so hot that you could fry an egg on the sidewalk. Just imagine how hot playground slides and other dark or metal objects can be on tender skin.

Do a Playground Walk through

As we move into the hot summer months, consider a walk through of your playgrounds and look for those things that you can adjust to account for the heat.

An excellent tool for checking the temperature is a handheld point-and-shoot infrared thermometer. They are often used in cooking, such as on the grill, but can be used to check your equipment before a child gets burned.

Look especially at dark metal or plastic, flat surfaces such as slides and playground decks, and particularly south and west facing structures. Even a brief touch, especially with a child’s delayed reflexes, can result in up to second-degree burns. Be sure to measure temperatures mid-day to evening, as summer afternoons are scorchers!

Summer Safety Tips for Hot Playground Slides and Playground Equipment

You can do a lot to mitigate the problems from excess temperatures:

  1. Provide shade: Shade your playground structures with shade sails, trees, or by locating the playground where shade from buildings is available.

  2. Safe placement for slides: When possible, install slides facing east or north.Put up a sign: Consider marking your structures with warnings that temperatures can be high and could result in burns.

  3. No wet swimsuits: Remember that water conducts heat, so wet swimsuits shouldn’t be on hot slides.

  4. Drinking water: Heat exhaustion and dehydration can occur quickly in children. Provide plenty of drinking water.

  5. Use water sources: Providing clean, not hot, water nearby is a great way to make sure children are safe and happy as they enjoy the playgrounds during the summer heat.

Have fun and play safe,

Dr. McIff

Dr. Brett McIff has worked in physical activity promotion for over 20 years in a variety of fields from personal training to policy development.  He received his undergraduate degree at the University of Utah in Exercise and Sports Science. He continued his graduate work with a Master of Science in Public Health and a Ph.D. in Public Health at Walden University.

Brett has served as President of the National Physical Activity Society and as President of the Utah Chapter of the Society of Public Health Educators and served on expert panels with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Academy of Science.  He works with committees at the national, state, and local levels to promote environments that encourage regular physical activity.

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