Firefighters: Playground equipment can reach dangerous temperatures, cause 2nd-degree burns in seconds

Grand Strand

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — Firefighters in Horry County are warning parents to be cautious of hot playground equipment, saying it can cause 2nd-degree burns on sunny days.

“So this time of year especially or even when it’s a little bit cooler, say it’s in the 70’s and 80’s, other surfaces can get hotter than the air temperature,” said Captain Johnathan Evans with Myrtle Beach Fire Department.

Using an infrared thermometer, the slide at Savannah’s Playground in Myrtle Beach was 120 degrees when it was just 83 degrees outside. The seat on the swing was reading at 110 degrees.

“It can get pretty warm. Even though most equipment nowadays is made with the plastic or some kind of polyurethane or something that doesn’t get as warm, but you still have some of those metal pieces that are attributed to those like even the swings, you have the metal poles that it’s attached to the chains so those pieces can get pretty warm,” said Evans.

David Boulware with Horry County Fire Rescue said if a surface gets to 140 degrees, that can cause 2nd-degree burns in as little as 5 seconds with direct contact time.

The slide at the Horry County Community Center in Conway was 138 degrees and the air temperature was 84 degrees.

“Even on a relatively cool day we’ve had reports of burns on as low as 74-75 degree days because it was very sunny and it can heat up some of this equipment,” said Boulware.

Boulware added, “It’s not so much the ambient temperature that makes the playground equipment dangerous, what makes it more dangerous is the actual sunlight especially hitting some of these darker colors where it absorbs that sunlight energy, especially those ultraviolet rays.”

Boulware said metal slides at older parks will attract the sun more easily and can cause more serious burns.

“I mean like I said other playgrounds definitely, that still have those metal slides and different things can definitely be an issue or some of this rubber asphalt, rubber flooring can be an issue since it sits in the sun and doesn’t have any shade,” said Evans.

Evans said kids should always be wearing shoes to protect them from getting burnt on their feet.

Evans added, “It’s always a good idea to talk to your kids about any of that kind of stuff so they know what’s going on, or give them a reason why they should be safe on that instead of just telling them don’t play on that cause, of course, the first thing they’re going to want to do is play on that.”

“The big thing with parents is when you take your kids to play out on the playground, put your hands on the equipment, touch everything that your child is going to touch. That way you can feel what exactly the temperature is and know that they’re in a safe environment,” said Boulware.

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