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

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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 heat‐reducing 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.

View Safety Surfacing

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.


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!  We can help decrease playtime risks with our No Fault Safety Surface, Bonded Rubber Mulch and Safety Tiles.

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