BUFFALO, N.Y. — In less than three seconds, a child’s skin can burn from playground equipment. Their favorite slide could be the culprit.
This information comes from the National Program for Playground Safety, or NPPS. So how do you make sure a trip to the neighborhood park doesn’t take a detour to the ER?
What kid doesn’t love the playground? Let’s be honest, what adult doesn’t love watching them conquer a rock decagon? For Margaret Turner, taking the grandkids for a morning adventure on a 70-degree partly-cloudy morning, was a no-brainer. Especially after a chocolate-filled breakfast.
“We made pancakes at home, chocolate chip pancakes,” Turner said.
The lack of sun and high temperatures offer a little solace to the hidden danger that comes with playgrounds.
“When I take my younger grandchildren, I always have to do a test on the slide and swings,” Turner said.
Turner does what’s called the touch test.
“It's always nice to incorporate like a touch test,” said Benjamin Kasper, injury prevention and outreach coordinator at Oishei Children's Hospital. “And by doing so, as a parent, you must be touching surfaces that you plan on having your child on. Just making sure that it's not hot to the touch.”
Playground equipment, according to NPPS, can reach temperatures of up to 189 degrees Fahrenheit. Kasper says conductors, like metal slides, are generally hotter than plastic. He adds if a playground is hot, superficial wounds are most likely.
“Like most people, when you touch something that's hot, you're going to pull away quickly,” Kasper said.
If you do notice some blistering, that’s when to call the pediatrician. Kasper says that’s unlikely, especially with what materials playgrounds are made of now.
There’s something else to keep in mind. With what heat the equipment absorbs, it releases. Playgrounds are built to keep kids moving. Those two factors could lead to a heat-related illness.
“You notice they maybe their behavior changes, maybe they become a little tired or lethargic,” Kasper said.
Kasper says it’s all temperature and person dependent. He says the best bet is to just be vigilant and proactive.
“And go early, not in the heat of the day and make sure we have water bottles of course,” Turner suggested.
They’ll certainly need it after all this climbing.
Cold temperatures also impact playgrounds. If not probably protected, a kid could get frostbite from equipment. Hypothermia is something else to watch out for.