Playground Equipment Can Get Dangerously Hot! What to Do About It?

During the dog days of summer, the sun mercilessly beats down on shiny playground equipment.  As a result, the colorful structures intended to give our kids fun and exercise can become extremely hot.

Playground equipment, no matter how child-friendly it seems, can cause a lot of pain if you don’t take precautions—especially during the peak summer months, which will be here before you know it.

Causes of Playground Burns

Children have tender skin that can be prone to severe burn injuries. Unfortunately, excited children don’t always take care and precaution when they’re enjoying some carefree time on the playground. That’s why it’s up to parents and teachers to help them avoid dangers. Please refer back to our blog, Parent & Teacher Guide to Keeping Kids Safe During Playtime.

The playground and the play objects there can become hot. Direct sunlight for long periods of time can make slides, swings, climbing features, seats and more hot to the touch. Keep an eye out for the items most likely to cause a burn. These include:

  • Uncoated metal equipment, or equipment where the heatreducing coating has rubbed off
  • Slides, swings or other equipment with a seat     
  • Asphalt and concrete surfaces

Metal slides continue to be the biggest source of playground burns. Many metallic slides are being replaced by slides made of plastic coated with heat-reducing paint. Still, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), slides made of materials such as plastics and rubber also have the potential to cause burns.

The CPSC reported 10 thermal burn injuries due to plastic slides between 2001 and 2008.

Beware of Cool, Sunny Days!

Usually, children are more likely to become victims of playground thermal burns on extremely hot days. That makes sense, right?

However … Parents and caregivers need to remember that children can get burned even on days with moderate temperatures! The CPSC reported that one child received second-degree thermal burns from a slide when the temperature outside was only 74 degrees!

What You Can Do to Keep Kids Safe

When designing a playground, it is important to take the risk of heat exposure into consideration. During the hot summer months, not only does the risk of burns from exposure to the sun increase but also the risk of heat exhaustion. Many playgrounds today are designed around shade trees or incorporate shade structures to reduce the risk of exposure to sun and rising temperatures. Strategically planning your design, is the first step to reducing this risk.

Older playgrounds may need to be revamped to incorporate new shade structures and/or equipment to reduce the risk of exposure to rising temperatures. Most of us can remember the playgrounds of the 80’s and 90’s loaded with bare metal climbing structures, metal slides, and steaming hot blacktops. If it isn’t in the budget to fully revamp the entire playground, consider adding shades from providers like USA Shade.

With all circumstances, it’s best for parents and caregivers to examine the playground for any potential hazards, including heat. Before a child uses the equipment, parents and caregivers should touch it with the back of the hand to test the temperature; if the temperature is too hot for the adult, it will be too hot and potentially dangerous for the children. Ensuring that children are wearing proper clothing and shoes can help protect them against rising temperatures and reduce the risk of burns, as well.

It’s true that long pants, full-sleeved shirts and closed-toed shoes can all be easier said than done during hot southern summers. But having a special set of clothes set aside “just for play” can be a good idea from the perspective of safety and laundry. Let your children get dirty in some thick, protective, sturdy clothes suited for rough-and-tumble outdoor action.

As always, do not leave your child unattended in the park. Stay close and monitor the activities to identify any possible signs of distress. Sometimes, children are unable to quickly remove themselves from the hot surface even after they have contacted the heat. The delay in taking action may prove extremely dangerous for the child.

Conclusion

No Fault has been helping schools, parks, community groups, and everyday moms and dads keep safe for over 45 years!  Not sure if your playground is as safe as it could be? Get in touch with our experts today at 1-866-NFSPORT!  We can help decrease playtime risks with our No Fault Safety Surface, Bonded Rubber Mulch and Safety Tiles.

“Make a Splash” with a New Splash Pad!

Anyone who remembers their childhood knows that children love playing in public water fountains. They even enjoy playing in the backyard sprinkler out on the lawn. It doesn’t take much to keep children entertained.

Have you considered building a splash pad for your park or recreational facility?  Splash pads can transform an ordinary park area into a space-efficient aquatic playground that can be safer than a swimming pool. A splash pad has no standing water, which eliminates the need for constant supervision. They also require less maintenance than a swimming pool, and they use less water.

In this article, No Fault will present the benefits of building a splash pad, along with some considerations to keep in mind as you plan your own mini water park.

 

So … What’s A Splash Pad, Anyway?

You’ll hear them called a lot of names, including: splash pad, splash deck, sprayground, aquatic play pad, spray pool…. Whatever name they go by, splash pads will typically consist of colorful, soft rubber surfacing, spray jets and above-ground spray features, along with the necessary drainage to make it all work.

A splash pad can operate on a freshwater system, a grey water system, or a recirculating system. Typically, the water is treated to at least the same level of quality as swimming pool standards.

Above ground add-ons for a splash pad might include features such as themed showers or movable nozzles (also known as cannons), which allow children to spray one another. These showers and nozzles are often controlled by hand-activated motion sensors which run for a limited time.

As you can see from some of the photos on this page (all of them actual No Fault Splash Pad projects), the options are virtually limitless!

 

Success Starts With Smart Installation

Like any other play equipment, splash pads require proper installation to ensure optimal performance and safety. Here are a few installation tips:

Discuss design plans, installation and duration of concrete base work with the manufacturer and slab contractor. It’s important that all work in and around the base be finished prior to installation. Together, you’ll work as a team to create a plan for a successful project!

Non-slip safety surfaces, like our No Fault Safety Surface for Water Play, can only be installed on a dry, clean, and dust-free subsurface. Before installation, keep the site off-limits and sweep away foreign objects like dust and dirt. 

No Fault Safety Surface requires a 48 to 72 hour post-installation curing period. There should be absolutely no walking on the splash pad during this time.

The bigger the splash pad, the longer installation will take – and the more good weather you will need for a successful installation. With as little as 100 square feet, you can create a fantastic splash pad. However, for areas more than 2,000 square feet or large inlaid designs, safety surfacing may require several days to install and cure.

 

Things to Remember About Your Safety Surfacing

No Fault provides the best-in-class rubber safety surfacing that makes splash pads attractive and safe.  A poured-in-place rubber surface like No Fault Safety Surface provides a non-slip, heat-resistant cushion to guarantee years of safe play.

Some people build splash pads without safety surfacing. These water play areas are dangerous for a couple of reasons:

  • Contact with concrete, cement, and asphalt can cause serious injuries in the event of accidental slips and falls. 
  • Materials, such as sand and concrete, absorb heat from the sun. Check out our other article in this month’s newsletter for more on this.

Although colorful designs are a big part of the splash pads we build, we strongly encourage that you avoid using black surfacing. Tests show that water treatment chemicals like bromine, ozone, and chlorine can break down chemical bonds in black EPDM rubber.

 

Regular Maintenance Protects Your Investment

Splash pads require regular maintenance to ensure water-play time is safe and enjoyable for everyone. Monthly maintenance will help keep your splash pad stain-free, slip-free, beautiful, and fun.

Cleaning is best done in the morning or at dusk. This allows cleansers to work their way into stains and germs without getting dried out too fast by the heat.

Start by sweeping, vacuuming, blowing, or hosing off the surface to clear it of dust, dirt, leaves and all other debris. Steel wool and abrasive scrubbers are not good for this! Instead, use a scrub brush with medium bristles to remove tough stains and minimize damage to your beautiful new splash pad.

Get the surface damp (this will prevent unnecessary friction), then apply a gentle cleanser. What kind of cleaner should you use? Avoid solvents and petroleum-based products such as gas, diesel, and hydraulic and lubricating oils—these products are damaging to No Fault Safety Surface. This includes harsh, color-leaching solutions like chlorine bleach, strong disinfectants, and concentrated degreasers. We recommend using an all-purpose cleaner like Formula 409 or Jomax House Cleaner and Mildew Killer.

 

Conclusion

Splash pads are a safe, affordable, and exciting enhancement to your park or recreation area.  No Fault has worked on hundreds of splash pads over the years. We can advise you on the best way to plan for construction. Get in touch with us today, and we’ll help you plan for many fun-filled summers to come!

No Fault Project Spotlight – Rustad Recreation Center, West Fargo, North Dakota

No Fault partnered with SafetyFirst Playground Maintenance to provide our poured-in-place rubber surfacing for Rustad Recreation Center’s indoor play gym in West Fargo, North Dakota.  SafetyFirst provided the colorful, inviting Burke playground equipment through Grandahl Recreation, and No Fault installed just more than 4,000 square feet of No Fault Safety Surface that, under the right circumstances, can be used indoors or outdoors.

Marissa Bauer, Certified Playground Safety Inspector (CPSI) with SafetyFirst, mentioned that because they are located in the Northern part of the United States where it’s so cold, they spend a lot of time during the year inside. The West Fargo Park District wanted to bring “the outdoors” in for children at their recreation center while still providing a safe environment for play.  For this reason, they chose to install poured-in-place rubber surfacing in a three color design.  The light brown color represents wood chips, the darker brown shows the playground borders, and the green depicts grassy areas.

Marissa stated, “The Rustad Recreation Center job was quite the project!  Beth Johnson, No Fault Regional Account Manager, as usual was awesome to work with.  We had a few last minute changes, and No Fault Staff just rolled with it!  Really, I couldn’t be more impressed with the customer service.” 

If you need assistance planning your indoor or outdoor play space, contact No Fault today!  We can help you incorporate a colorful, slip-resistant rubber safety surface into your latest playground project.  We also work with Reps throughout the country that can provide state-of-the art play equipment.