Every neighborhood and school should have a park or playground. It’s important for children to be able to get outdoors and play, so they can both have fun and get the exercise they need to stay healthy. Sometimes, however, it can seem like a bit of a nightmare to go to the park in the summertime, which unfortunately for those of us in Arizona, seems to last ten months out of the year. Just the heat of the day itself can be enough to turn someone off from heading down to the park, but the real danger comes from the heat of the playground equipment.
In a study done by Texas Tech Researcher Jennifer Vanos at a playground in Gilbert, Arizona, temperatures of playground equipment and surfacing in direct sunlight were measured as high as 87.2° C. That’s 189° F! This data was taken when the ambient air temperature was 41.6° C, or 107° F. Under the shade of a shade sail, this same surface was 46.7° C, or 116° F, over 70° F cooler! Vanos noted that “…we were able to show that even on extremely hot days, a park that had a shade sail was safe to play in in terms of heat exposure and burning potential” (1). An interesting fact about the sunlight heating park equipment is that it is not entirely dependent upon the air temperature in that area. According to one portion of this CPSC Fact Sheet from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (2), burn risk of playground equipment is more dependent upon length of exposure to direct sunlight. Even in comfortable air temperatures, there is still risk of burning hands or feet on playground equipment that is exposed to direct sunlight for a long time.
If shade seems like the obvious answer to this problem, that's because it is. A shade sail is the best way you can shade your park from the harmful sunlight, not only cooling down the area, but preventing the metal, rubber, and plastic playground equipment from getting too hot. There are other natural options like trees, which are great! But it can be difficult at best to convince a tree to grow horizontally out and over park equipment. It may be good for morning and late afternoon shade, but in the meridian of the day, you'll need man-made shade.
There is a range of possibilities for shade, from the most common hip structure (shown above) to an incredibly unique display of shade sails (shown below). Some designs are more practical than others, and some more economic. To find out what application works best for you, contact one of our project managers and they will be able to walk you through all the details. We have all our playground shade sails engineered before production, so you can sleep easy knowing that each structure has been designed to precise specifications unique to their individual applications.
When it comes to the safety of the children in your neighborhood, it's a bit of a no-brainer. Every playground should have a shade structure to prevent the equipment from becoming dangerously hot. Children deserve a place to play in comfort, as they grow, learn, and explore.