Playground equipment can reach dangerous temps during hot days

Published: Jul. 19, 2019 at 7:50 AM MDT
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The temperature in Denver nearly hit triple digits Thursday, but that doesn’t compare to the surface heat recorded in city playgrounds. The Denver Fire Department’s temperature gun found equipment at the Wash Park playground that was dangerously hot.

“Children’s hands would recognize heat quicker than adults because of the calluses on our hands,” explained Denver Fire Capt. Greg Pixley, “The equipment that our kids are playing on needs to be checked first.”

After a few hours in the sun, the playground swings were measured at 151 degrees. The rubber floor under the jungle gym was 160 degrees. According to the American Burn Association, a surface over 140 degrees can take as little as three seconds to cause a second-degree burn.

“It might appear as a sunburn initially. It might just appear as red skin,” said Pixley.

According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were about 1,200 emergency department treated injuries involving thermal burns associated with playground equipment between 2010 and 2015.

Children at the playground were limited to what they could do because nearly every surface was too hot to touch.

“The swings are really hot. We’re afraid we’ll get burned because of how hot the slide is!” said Zoe, a summer camp student at the playground.

Water and sunscreen won’t protect kids from the triple digit temperatures they can touch. If she can’t visit a playground with more shade, Zoe plans to bring a towel a place on the slides and the swing the next time she visits Wash Park.

It’s important that children wear shoes when playing outside in extreme heat. If it’s too hot for human feet, then also it’s too hot for your dog’s paws. Pet owners should try to walk their dogs in the grass when possible.