Burn Hazards Possible on Playgrounds

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It won’t be long before Father Winter strikes again. With students heading back to school, playgrounds and other public parks will be packed with people trying to take in every last bit of this summer season. But it’s not all fun and games. Heat stroke and heat exhaustion can be prevented with proper hydration and frequent shade, yet there is another flaming foe – hot surfaces.

To understand how hot playground equipment can really get, we used an infrared thermometer to record surface temperature.  The readings ranged from 118 degrees on a rubber swing to a sizzling 139 degrees on a full-range plastic slide.  The temperatures were recorded at 11 o’clock in the morning, well before the temperature peaked Monday (August 21st, 2017). It is for that reason Beckley father Clancey Shaw takes his 3-year-old son Josiah at an earlier time.

“We try to get out before 12 because the temperature is still climbing,” Shaw said. “We try to get him some exercises and stay hydrated.”

MedExpress physician Dr. Philip Roberts advises to avoid these scorching surfaces as much as possible to avoid the possibility of second degree burns. But if the kids can’t resist, the key is wearing an extra layer.

“If they’re going on to be these hot surfaces, you want to make sure it is covered with some piece of clothing,” Roberts said. “If it’s bare skin, you’re having a higher risk of burn. You don’t have to wear the heavy denim or heavy kind of clothing. There are lot of fabrics that are perfectly light, easy to wear, and very breathable in this kind of heat.”

For Clancey and his son, they are already ahead of the game.

“I personally wear an extra jacket myself,” Shaw said. “I put it on the slide to help out with the friction.”

In addition to the extra clothing, Dr. Roberts also recommends children to be adequately hydrated and protected with high S.P.F. sunscreen.

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