Kids' playgrounds pose danger

June 25, 2009 9:12:52 AM PDT
Yesterday was the hottest June day Houston has ever seen. Temperatures hit 104 degrees, breaking a nearly century-old record. That heat is dangerous and it could be deadly for kids at the playground. [JUST HOW HOT?: Check current temps right where you are]

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, younger children are at a higher risk of getting burned because their reflexes aren't developed, so they don't react as quickly if they come in contact with hot surfaces.

In fact, every year there are cases of young children receiving second and third degree burns to their arms, legs and back sides from hot playground equipment.

Parents need to remember to test any metal surfaces, including poles, slides and the handles on swings, anything that can get really hot and anything that's in direct sunlight. A good test is to put your hand on the surface and count to five slowly. If that feels OK to you, then it's probably safe to let your child play there.

Also, it's a good idea to take play mats with you. It'll keep the ground surface a bit cooler, but be sure to check the surface of the mats, because the plastic can become dangerously hot, as well.

And finally, remember that your children's feet are prone to burns, too, especially if they're running through sprinklers. If their little feet touch that cement, their skin could blister.

While they're playing and sweating, children lose a lot of water and their body temperature fluctuate. Parents should make sure they're keeping them properly hydrated with water and sports drinks. Don't wait until they're thirsty and make them take in fluids throughout the day.

Try to take them to the park or playground before 10am and after 6 or 7pm. It's hot all day long, but at least you'll minimize the intensity of the sun at those hours.

And finally, look for shady play areas under trees or canopies. It'll keep their play time cooler.

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