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SPECIAL REPORT: Playground Equipment, Too Hot to Handle?

BLUFFTON, S.C. (WSAV) - Playgrounds are packed during the summer. Kids have a great time hanging out with their friends. But did you know the slides and swings they're playing on could be too hot to handle?

News 3 wanted to find out exactly how hot the playground equipment your kids play on can get.

Bluffton Fire Captain Lee Levesque and a Laser temperature gauge would get us all some answers.

As we quickly found out, almost every piece of equipment's temperature was higher than the outside temperature.

The slide, which was made of plastic, registered as high as 120 degrees. Levesque says that's hot enough to burn a child.

"The temperature and your exposure to that temperature in that timeframe are the key details," explains Levesque. "The higher the temp the shorter amount of time to cause the burn."

The same results could be found on various pieces of equipment, benches and even swings.

Painted surfaces did prove to be cooler than raw metal spots.

Levesque says before you go out, think about the time of day, and temperature.

"Check and consider every day. It doesn't matter if yesterday was safe, tomorrow may be different. Temperature changes, relative humidity, so many things can change."

"So when is a good time to come to the playground? When you are not going to be exposed to higher temperatures and you can play whatever time it is without being burned," said Levesque.

The Beaufort County School System has already converted all their playground from metal structures to ones made out of wood and plastic.

The best advice for everyone, don't let kids play on the playground shirtless or just in bathing suits. Covering up can keep them safe.
 
Stay away from the heat of the day. Morning is the best. The late afternoon still could have residual heat after seeing equipment bake in the sun all day.

Captain Levesque offers hands-on tests to help parents feel the heat.

"Use the back of your hand," explains Levesque. "It's less calloused, it's less tough and then you are more apt to feel that heat quicker and twofold you are able to pull your hand away as opposed touching something with the palm of your hand, you are more likely to close your hand which would burn more."


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