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How do I keep my playground surface from getting hot?

Prevent Playground Burns and Overheating with These Common Sense Tips



By Julia Nass

The main purpose of a playground surface is to keep kids safe and comfortable as they play and run around. Over the years, immense progress has been made in safety of playgrounds, particularly in regards to new surface technology. Playground flooring now has better cushion and shock-absorption to lessen the impact of accidents. Plus, they have better traction to prevent accidents in the first place.

Hot Playgrounds: A Safety Threat

While falling is a huge concern on playgrounds, there are other less obvious ones that are also important to consider. Thermal burns is another big one. Despite common understanding, it is not just metal slides that can get hot enough to burn skin. Certain equipment, especially dark-colored surfaces, can cause thermal burns. Surfaces heat up when sitting in direct sunlight for long periods of time - even in mild weather. Playground flooring is the same. Concrete, asphalt and dark-colored plastics and rubbers are particularly susceptible to reaching burnable temperatures.

Any child can be burned by playground surfaces, but children under two are the most susceptible. The younger the child, the more delicate their skin is and the easier it is to burn. Plus, reflexes do not kick in the same way as they do with older children, so a child may feel a burn but may not understand to remove himself/herself from the surface.

How to Prevent Playground Burns

There are several precautions that should always be taken when visiting the playground. First of all, it is also vital to be aware of weather conditions before taking kids to the playground, and parents should always check the temperature of equipment before letting kids loose on it. Second, many thermal burns occur on children's feet when they are running around barefoot. Thus, a child should always wear shoes when playing on the playground. Make sure children are dressed in appropriate clothing as well. The less skin that is showing, the less likely burns will occur.

There are a variety of other ways to protect a child from ground-related burns. Keeping playground tiles or playground rubber from getting hot in the first place is key. The following list provides ideas for maintaining a cool enough playground surface.

How to Maintain Cool Playground Surfaces

1) Use Light Colored Playground Tiles

If a playground is being set up in direct sunlight, consider using light colored playground tiles. Dark colors absorb more of the sun's energy, which translates to heat. Thus, the lighter the surface, the less heat the ground will absorb from sunlight. This is the reason people recommend wearing white on a hot day instead of dark colors. It is the same concept for playground surfaces too.

Rubber is a popular playground flooring choice, and luckily, not all playground rubber is black. Playground rubber products come in a wide variety of colors. For example, 2.75 inch thick Blue Sky Rubber Playground Tiles provide a wide variety of safety benefits, such as a fall height rating of six feet and ADA compliant ramps. Plus, these tiles come in six different colors including tan, grey and light green. Consider choosing a color like tan to help prevent the rubber surface from holding as much heat.

PVC playground tiles are another excellent choice and come in an even greater range of light colors. Ergo Matta perforated tiles, as an example, can be ordered in a myriad of colors including white, yellow and beige.

2) Choose a Perforated Tile

Perforated playground tiles are another excellent way to keep surface temperatures down. With perforated tiles, air can flow throughout flooring, which helps keep things cooler. Plus, there is not as much surface area for the sun to heat up, so tiles simply do not get as hot.

3) Install In a Shaded Area

Playground placement can make a huge difference in surface temperature as well. If it is possible to install playground flooring in a shaded area, parents and kids alike will be grateful for it. Because direct sunlight does more to create heat in playground equipment than the outside temperature, shade does wonders in keeping temperatures down.

4) Build a Shade Structure for the Playground

If playground tiles have already been placed and do not get any natural shade, consider building some type of shade structure around the playground. Many playgrounds have tents, awnings or other structures to protect surfaces and equipment from direct sunlight. These are especially handy for hot, dry climates where there are not as many large, tall trees to provide natural sun protection.

For More Help

If you need further guidance on creating a playground with the utmost safety, feel free to chat online or over the phone with a Greatmats representative. They can assist and support you in creating a playground environment both kids and parents will be happy about.
For more on this topic please review our Playground Rubber Safety Surfaces product page.