Triple Digit Temps Turning Playgrounds Into Burn Risks

Nick Lawton
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - A harmless place of Summer fun for kids is becoming a burning concern for the community.

With the sun's heat scorching everything it touches, even a playground can become a hazard, so much so that now the Tall City is taking action against the triple-digit temperatures.

Currently Midland parks like Taylor, Halff and Ratliff are being altered to suit the Summer heat.

"As you can see here, the shade structure is on the West side," Midland Parks and Recreation Manager, Scott Swigert, said pointing to a shade over the playground. "We are adding shade structures to the playground, orient the playground stuff as close to trees, and that will provide shading as well. Just to be able to provide that shade so we can give some relief in those hot days."

There are 42 parks with playgrounds in Midland and park officials said concrete paths, slides, and swings soaking up the heat for children to sit or stand on pose the greatest threat.

Some older parks like Dennis the Menace and Ulmer still contain metal equipment which can conduct even more heat.

But as NewsWest 9 found out, even plastic slides can be too hot to handle.

NewsWest 9 took the temperature of a plastic slide at Halff Park, and the thermometer maxed out at 111 degrees before reading "H" for too hot.

Those are temperatures that local doctors said could seriously hurt children. They call them thermal burns.

"If you have an infant or child that cannot communicate and is put on something hot and metal that's been out in the sun in triple digit temperatures, and they're left there and they're not able to communicate, they potentially could get a first or second-degree burn," Dr. Richard Bartlett, Medical Director of the Basin Hospital Emergency Room in Odessa, said.

To make sure your child still has fun in the sun without getting burned, it can be as simple as testing the playground equipment for yourself.

"Go out there and feel the equipment before you actually let the kids play on it to try and make sure that it's not too hot for them," Swigert said. "If it is, don't let them play on that piece at that time."

"Sunscreen, plenty of fluids, especially water," Bartlett said. "Stay in the shade as much as you can. Those are the practicals and those really do go a long ways."

Officials said it's important for kids to have fun this Summer and not end up burned.

"Kids will be kids and so you've got to just watch them and take care of them," Swigert said.