Rising temperatures mean hotter playground equipment

Published: Jul. 22, 2022 at 6:44 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - We know it’s hot out there, but did you know it doesn’t have to be that hot for kids to get burned by the playground equipment?

The Consumer Product Safety Commission says one child was burned when it was just 74 degrees.

It’s not just the metal slides you need to worry about.

We found the plastic used for slides, swings and even the ground surfaces can all burn children if you aren’t careful.

“It was hot on my butt, really bad,” says Lillian Brody.

Lillian is sticking with the splash pad instead of the playground in this summer’s heat, much like sisters Irene and Olivia.

“Because it’s so hot!” says Olivia.

The National Program for Playground Safety warns structures can reach temperatures up to 189 degrees, burning a child’s skin in less than three seconds.

We put it to the test.

On a slide, kids may get in at the top, think they’re fine; think it’s not hot because it’s enclosed. You get to the bottom where it’s been baking in the sun, the surface temperature of this right now is registering about 126 degrees.

Dr. Richard Cartie is a pediatric ICU doctor at the Burn Center at Doctors Hospital. He’s seen the playground burn danger become very real in his 15 years of treating burns.

“Often, it’s not something you figure out by just touching it. You have to hold your hand on it,” says Cartie.

Cartie says young children have thinner skin, so their threshold is different than an adult and so are their behaviors.

“A lot of times kids will freeze. When something is uncomfortable, they tend to stop moving no matter what they’re doing, which then prolongs the contact with a hot surface,” he says.

What should you look out for? The CPSC warns to use caution with:

  • Slides, swings, or other equipment that a child may sit on
  • Dark colored plastics and rubbers especially the surfacing under and around playground equipment
  • Asphalt and concrete surfaces near playgrounds
  • Any metal equipment

CPSC also reiterates thermal burns, while rare, can happen in even mild weather.

Their website states that if the equipment or surfacing is in direct sunlight for an extended period of time, there is a risk of sustaining a thermal burn injury.

What about the beach?

One lifeguard in Tybee Island told our sister station he’s seen people with first and second-degree burns on their feet from walking barefoot on hot sand.

Make sure you have your shoes on or walk in the sand recently touched by water.

Another parent hack is to keep outdoor playtime in high temperatures under an hour and keep in mind irritability is a sign of dehydration.

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