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Playgrounds Go Up in Flames?

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As playgrounds in New York heat up, so is the call to remove the black rubber mat flooring.

Global warming might be warming up more than the Antarctic. A group of parents in New York are complaining that the black mats ubiquitous in most city play areas get so hot they are literally burning children. Reports say the mats can get up to 160 degrees. And it's not just in New York--playgrounds are heating up everywhere. Many parents don't even bother visiting playgrounds during the hottest part of the day because the chains from the swings and the slides get way too hot.

One Southern California mom recounts a too-hot-to-touch play area at a Fourth of July carnival: "They had tons of inflatable bouncies and slides. It was about 100 degrees. We paid $20 for a wristband and my 3-year-old went down the inflatable slide and began crying in pain. She had red welts all over her legs...she had been burned by the scalding hot slide. When I asked for a refund, I was denied. Obviously, we left immediately. Getting burned on an inflatable slide was not our idea of a good time!"

Unlike many mad moms, this one chose not to sue. Conversely, in New York, several lawsuits have been put in motion from angry parents, such as Reyhan Mehran whose 14-month-old son was burned at a park in 2004 when the child kicked off his shoes and ran--before his caregiver could stop him.

While some parents are outraged by the hot playgrounds, others think we're over protecting our kids. Parents remember when they were kids having creative solutions to the hot metal slide problem, "We poured water down the chute to cool it," says one dad.

Using playgrounds is not without risk, says John Crosby of the National Playground Safety Institute. "When public facilities offer play spaces, there is a huge opportunity for injury no matter what. It could be at an open space park and tree branch could fall." He also says there is one rule all parents should follow: "No child should approach a playground without their shoes." Crosby also recommends during hot summer days keeping your kids off of metal slides entirely.

And, although momlogic contributor and Pediatrician Dr. Cara Natterson has never treated a child for a burn from rubberized playground surfaces, she insists her children wear shoes at all times at the playground. "I know that there are times when my kids want to take their shoes off and the surface is just too hot. Frankly, that is true of sandboxes and light-colored rubberized surfaces too. Unless there is a canopy of shade at the park, the ground can feel scorching."

While there are drawbacks with the black surfaces heating up, Dr. Cara favors them over the alternative. "Fall injures tend to be much more benign when a child is landing on a soft, padded surface compared with hard concrete."

Do you think public playgrounds are dangerous or parents are too overprotective?

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48 comments so far | Post a comment now
foxymama July 23, 2008, 6:03 PM

This is horrible, What about shade - why do they spend all this money on playgrounds with no shade?

charlotte--ohio July 23, 2008, 6:14 PM

what is wrong with parents. we are responsible for keeping them safe. I’m sorry but what mom let’s her kid go barefoot at a public park?! They should be wearing tennis shoes not flip flops if they’re going to be playing and climbing and stepping on god knows what.

Stop blaming others moms and stop suing people becasue of your bad mothering!
Take responsiblity

Orlando July 23, 2008, 7:03 PM

I completely agree with Charlotte. It’s horrible how these parents let their kid run barefooted in a public park. This is the same as letting the kid run barefooted in the beach with the hot sand, no difference.

This is another classic exmaple of parents trying to pass blame and not accepting responsibilities for their own actions.

Wendi July 24, 2008, 12:32 AM

I agree that this is a case where parents need to be more responsible. I live in Tucson of all places and let me tell you how hot the playgrounds get here. Shade or no shade, they are downright hot. You have to use common sense when it comes to stuff like this,if it is hot out, well chances are anything sitting in the sun is going to be hot. Get over it and figure a way around it. Touch it before your child does if you are not sure. It really is not that hard to figure this out.

It gets so hot here that when the kids get in the car the seat belts can burn them. Gee should we all sue the car companies?? I think not!! How about put the car A/C on before you put the kids in. You just have to adapt and use some common sense.

Anonymous July 24, 2008, 9:51 PM

lazy parenting

theshortone March 26, 2009, 1:26 PM

Just think of how hot it is in Florida during the summer! I live there and somtimes the parks with no shade are empty because it’s so hot.

kcmom March 26, 2009, 1:32 PM

i am so sick of everybody blaming (suing) everybody else for their own responsibilities. i am incredibly empathetic to the families whose children have been hurt in what should be a fun atmosphere, but common sense has gone too far by the wayside. in the summer, it is hot, and just like the sidewalk is hot, so is the rest of the world—-use caution.really. oh hey and guess what? in the winter, it is cold and you may encounter snow or ice, again, use caution.

dh March 26, 2009, 1:43 PM

Yeah, and in Winter, don’t stick your tongue on that metal playground equipment pole, or you’ll regret it!!! Maybe we should sue the city and schools, because they don’t have heated metal poles too?

Zippy March 26, 2009, 1:46 PM

I think that parents need to use more common sense. I am sad to see the playground equipment I grew up with going the way of dinosaurs. We had so much fun, skinned knees, broken arms and all. Our society now is looking for the quick buck, which means sue, sue, sue,even if I didn’t use common sense! We all need to take more personal responsiblity for our lives and our surroundings.

Anonymous March 26, 2009, 2:02 PM

Same thing here in Hotlanta (Atlanta)……Duh, I would never let my daughter go barefoot on a playground! It is the parents responsibility!!!!

ladyolivia March 26, 2009, 2:13 PM

As a public works director I can tell you that city government spends a bunch of money on “safe” playground equipment. An average size play structure costs about $30,000 to $70,000 for a city park. If people continue to sue, the city will be forced to remove these areas. Then you will have to entertain them at home! Parent up!

anonymous March 26, 2009, 2:19 PM

I’m not even a parent, heck I’m a 22 year old man and I notice people making stupid decisions with their children every day…I’m losing faith in humanity one person at a time.

Michelle March 26, 2009, 2:26 PM

Is anyone else tired of parents who try to blame everything on someone else. If it’s hot out, chances are the playground equipment is hot…and who lets there kids play at a public park with no shoes on come on your asking for trouble.

Jamie March 26, 2009, 3:00 PM

It’s the stupid parents like these that make it difficult for the honest lawsuits to get through the system. American’s are just money hungry and will use their own children as scapegoats if it will get them an extra penny. Parents like these shouldn’t be parents - take away their rights and maybe kids will have a chance.

meshia March 26, 2009, 3:05 PM

these parents is no good at all why would they do that for it is a park u dont take your shoes off no where if u at home or something it’s sad seeing a little boy hurt like that in new york they should know better then that so yea these parents need wake in smell the coffe so yea
meshia rasberry

Tired in Cleveland March 26, 2009, 3:20 PM

When will the courts finally sau enough is enough. Lets start fining the parents for not doing the job they have to do as parents,

brenda March 26, 2009, 3:28 PM

It is our responsibilty not only as parents but as good members of society to take care of ourselves and our children. Stop blaming everyone else. Hello, no shoes in the playground is about as smart as sticking a hot cup of coffee between our legs. When we as parents blame everyone else for not taking care of our children, this is we have no right as parents. Like now!!!

samantha  March 26, 2009, 3:49 PM

I’m sorry for these poor children that are getting hurt. I can’t even imagine what it must feel like as a mother to see that happen to your child, and as much as we like to hold the cities responsible for the play grounds, i think as much responsibility falls on us as well. The city should take up the option of shading the playgrounds, but moms, i don’t want to be rude or mean but somethings are just plain common-sense. I would never take my four year old to a play ground when i know that its scorching outside. But, thats just me. I understand that children need the release of playing outside, but if its hot out then try planning some fun with water play, or check the playgrounds before you allow your children to play. So in my opinion the responsibility falls on all of us to care for the children of today.

Mike March 26, 2009, 3:54 PM

Back in the 70s when kids of my generation were growing up ; there were times when a metal slide or the plastic seat was hot , because of the sun’s shining down upon the object . We knew better than to climb go barefooted on the slide or sit - down on the seat ; and we always checked by feeling the objects first before going on . As for the part about restaurants’ playgrounds ; there were no playgrounds at McDonald’s , nor at Burger King’s around that decade . All we did was got our Kid’s Meals by being accompanied by our parents when we were little , until we were old enough to get our meals by ourselves . There were no “Happy Meals” , and the kids’s meals were bought with a Gift Certificate . I say ..That they should banned all playgrounds at restaurants , and make the playgrounds near our houses more safe .

Mike (New Jersey) March 26, 2009, 3:55 PM

I agree parents should be more responsible, however, it is “our” taxpayer money that goes into funding public parks, so we should hold our public servants to higher standard as well.

And for those of you that ask for “common sense” from the general public? Well, the general public’s common sense (or lack of) has issued in a socialist America. Good job people! ;)

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