Heat can cause playground dangers for children

by: Janna Clark Updated:

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TULSA, Okla. —

The heat can hit kids hard and quickly. 

FOX’s Janna Clark used infrared technology to find out how hot playground surfaces can get.

The newer squishy playground surface is designed to cushion kids when they fall, but when it's hot outside, the surface gets hot to the touch.

As 3-year-old Raven rocked a toy pony, her mom, Tasha Oseland, watched Raven and other kids run around in the mulch at Whiteside Park in Tulsa.

“It's really a great park,” she said.

Right next to the older playground is a newer one with a rubberized surface instead of mulch.

“The rubber mat gets really hot during the summer. If you're wearing thin sandals, it can actually kind of cook through your shoes. It's really, really hot,” said Oseland.

With their parents' permission, FOX23 asked siblings Adella and Simon and their friend Burton to tell us what they thought about the rubberized surface.

“Kind of hot, ow ow ow,” said Adella.

"It is very hot,” said Simon.

“It feels really, really, really hot,” said Burton.

FOX23 used a thermometer to see how hot it was. In the early afternoon, the mulch was 136 degrees and the rubberized surface was 170 degrees.

The city of Tulsa said crews started putting in the rubberized surface about five years ago at parks like Heller, Braden, Whiteside and Darlington.

“As far as heat, when the sun's out, it's going to get hot,” said Tulsa City Parks Landscape Architect Jack Bubenik.

Bubenik said any part of a playground can get hot.

“We encourage kids to always wear shoes,” he said.

Even the sign at the park says "do not remove shoes."  Bubenik said both the mulch and rubberized surfaces are safe.

But the city might choose something other than the rubberized surface for a different reason. The city said it isn't as durable as expected.

“The maintenance has been more than we were led to believe,” said Bubenik.

When crews put in new playgrounds, the city said it's looking into what kind of surface best survives the cold and heat.

Oseland said she'd be happy with mulch -- “Less to worry about.”