Hot playground equipment can burn kids, parks advocacy group says

The artificial turf field at Booker T. Washington Playground in Upper Manhattan reached 171.6 degrees.  Credit:
The artificial turf field at Booker T. Washington Playground in Upper Manhattan reached 171.6 degrees.
Credit: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates

Parents should be cautious bringing their kids to playgrounds during this week’s heat wave, a park advocacy group said Tuesday.

Artificial turf and metal equipment in city playgrounds can reach surface temperatures of 170 degrees and land children in the hospital, according to Geoffrey Croft of the NYC Park Advocates.

“A child can get burned within a few seconds at 120 degrees and they’re playing on much higher temperatures,” Croft said.

When Croft visited the playground Tuesday afternoon, the surface temperature of artificial turf in Carl Schurz Park’s on the Upper East Side was 165 degrees.

“A lot of campers are jumping around on this artificial turf that could seriously injure them,” he said.

Most artificial turf in city playgrounds are black, which absorbs more heat than other colors.

Croft said each year more than a dozen children are treated in burn centers for injuries sustained on artificial turf, rubber and other playground safety surfacing. The NYC Park Advocates have been tracking the issue for several years.

He questioned why the city would install equipment and surfacing without testing materials for the heat they could generate on a warmer day.

“Anything that’s in your office or home has to go through the American Society of Testing Materials, but when you dump something in a playground you don’t have to test it for heat,” Croft said.

The Parks Department did not return multiple requests for comment about the temperature of the artificial turf.

Croft said kids should play on grass instead, which is generally 60 to 70 degrees cooler. Parents should also watch for signs of heat stroke, including nausea, dehydration, headaches and dizziness.

While he doesn’t have children himself, Croft said he worries about his four godchildren.

“I also worry about New yorkers, cause people are out there for so long,” he added.

Follow Anna Sanders on Twitter: @AnnaESanders


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