When you take your child to the community park, do you ever touch the playground equipment? Sometimes it gets so hot you could fry an egg.

Mother and child at playground

Jennifer Vanos, assistant professor in atmospheric science at Texas Tech University, says there are currently few safety guidelines to help protect children from extreme heat at the playground.

And calling it “extreme heat” is no exaggeration. When Vanos and her team took measurements at a playground in Arizona, they found some surfaces hot enough to burn a bare leg in three seconds.

Vanos says there’s not much data on playgrounds and heat-related illnesses. So there has been little regulatory action so far to protect kids from these dangers. And it’s a problem that is likely to get worse as the climate warms, so it will be increasingly important for communities to reduce temperatures through smart landscaping.

VANOS: “So, we can use trees for shade, and we can put up shade sails in the summer. Plus, we can use different playground surface materials so they don’t get so hot.”

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Vanos hopes her research will provide communities with information that will help them make informed decisions to protect their children.

Reporting credit: Leah Menzer/ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photo: Copyright protected.

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Lisa Palmer is a freelance journalist and a fellow at the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, SESYNC, in Annapolis, Md. Her writing covers the environment, energy, food security, agriculture,...