Summer playground safety

Any Georgian can tell you, summertime in the South can be a rough season especially if it’s also when your kids spend most of their time outdoors. As a parent, navigating everything we need to protect from sunburns, heat stroke and dehydration can leave us underestimating the big, brightly colored, plastic hazards right in front of us — playground equipment.

Think about it. Playground equipment spends all day in the sun just soaking up the summer temperatures. This is called heat absorption, and just like touching a hot pot handle can give you a nasty burn, touching the monkey bars can too. So, whether is equipment is made out of metal or plastic, don’t let an unexpected burn ruin your play date.

  • Dress your child in clothing appropriate for the playground. Clothing made out of thicker materials like denim or cotton can offer a first layer of protection than thinner materials. Always make sure your child wears shoes on the playground to protect little feet against hot equipment and concrete walkways.
  • Test the equipment yourself. Place your palm on the equipment before your child starts to play. If the equipment is too hot to touch, it’s too hot to play on.
  • Low temperatures can still cause burns. Some days it may not seem that hot outside, but if equipment has been sitting in direct sunlight all day it can still absorb heat. Do the touch test every time; even if it’s a cloudier day.
  • I only should worry about metal slides, right? Wrong. Rubber, plastic, and other materials used for playground equipment can still get very hot. Be mindful of swings and their chains, crawl tunnels, jungle gyms and all of the other climbing, jumping, hanging things.
  • Prioritize parks with shade. This can be hard to do depending on what’s available in your community, but just like you’d try new restaurants and stores, venture outside of your comfort zone to find parks that have shade trees, covered areas or umbrellas. The extra time across town might be worth it during the summer months.
  • Pack a safety pack.
    • Water – stay hydrated!
    • Snacks – stay nourished!
    • Sunscreen – stay protected from those UV rays!
    • Aloe Vera gel – if minor burns occur.
    • Towel – helpful for when your child goes down the slide or wants to sit on the swings.
Most playground burns won’t require emergency care, just a cold compress and healing kisses. If your child experiences an emergency injury, the Children’s Hospital of Georgia has the most advanced pediatric emergency department in the CSRA open 24/7. For everything else, it has the largest team of general pediatricians, adolescent medicine physicians and pediatric specialists in the Augusta area. For more information, visit our website at or call 706-721-KIDS (5437).

About the author

Children's Hospital of Georgia

Children’s Hospital of Georgia is the only facility in the area dedicated exclusively to children. It staffs the largest team of pediatric specialists in the region who deliver out- and in- patient care for everything from common childhood illnesses to life-threatening conditions like heart disorders, cancer and neurological diseases.