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How to Keep a Poured-In-Place Playground Surface from Getting Heated

Wet-pour or poured-in-place rubber surfacing is an ideal choice for kids’ playgrounds and recreational areas. The surface offers adequate cushioning, slip resistance, and shock absorption, reducing the risk of serious injuries in the event of a fall. Further, the surface depth of PIP rubber surfacing can be easily customized according to the equipment height for additional safety. What’s more? PIP surfacing can withstand heavy foot traffic and intense activity and is excellent for ADA accessibility.

No wonder, poured-in-place rubber surfacing tops the list of playground surfacing materials. However, outdoor play areas with rubber surfacing tend to be sitting in direct sunlight, especially during the summer. Though rubber has a high specific heat capacity (0.48 – higher than other playground surfacing materials like concrete, asphalt, and sand), on extremely hot days the surface can reach unbearable temperatures. This can cause heat injuries like thermal burns in kids.

In this post, we have suggested ways to protect the poured-in-place playground surfacing from extreme sunlight, allowing kids to stay safe and have a fun time outdoors.

Go for Light Surfacing Colors

The best part about poured-in-place rubber surfacing is that you can choose from a variety of colors and combinations to match your overall look, custom design, brand logo, or corporate theme. But the color you choose for an outdoor play area affects the amount of heat it holds. Avoid choosing darker shades for your playground surfacing as they tend to absorb more heat compared to the light-colored ones.

Also, if you are going for the speckled look, consider reducing the percentage of black granules in the combination. Though adding more black granules reduces the overall cost of the surface, the color tends to hold more heat, increasing the temperature of the surface and the risk of burns in kids. Consider choosing lighter shades like tan, yellow, and beige that do not trap as much heat and still look aesthetically pleasing.

Rubcorp offers a wide range of colors that can be customized as per your needs. Our team will be happy to discuss the color options based on the location of the playground and your budget.

Befriend Nature

Trees and plants are known to hold carbon dioxide (the major contributor to the global temperature increase) in their leaves and stems, thus reducing the overall air temperature. Not just this, plants can purify the air by getting rid of pollutants like sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen.

No wonder, most modern playgrounds and sustainable play areas are built around trees, native vegetation, wildflowers, and water bodies that not only offer shade but also contribute to a rich landscape. Consider befriending native greenery to reduce the air temperature and offer natural protection from direct sunlight.

Provide a Shaded Area

A few states in the US are notorious for extreme summer. Any surface exposed to such hot conditions will eventually heat up. That includes hot weather flooring options like rubber surfacing that are otherwise known to be resistant to the heat. Therefore, one of the best ways to reduce the temperature of the surface is to limit the amount of sunlight reaching it.

Adding a shade can make a huge difference! Place a shade structure like fabric shades, canopies, and sun shade sails that can significantly reduce the temperature of the playground surfacing and the equipment in the area. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the National Program for Playground Safety recommend installing such playground shades to reduce exposure to ultraviolet rays, lower the air temperature of the covered area, and lower the temperature of the safety flooring.

Thus, providing a playground shade can keep the kids safe from burns and dehydration and extend their playtime. Choose a dark-colored playground shade as they have a higher shade factor (block up to 96 percent of UV rays). Steer clear from shades of white as they not only have the lowest shade factor but also tend to collect dust.

Know When to Close the Play Area

Humans cannot always fight nature. Sudden summer storms, heat waves, and extreme rise in temperature cannot be avoided. During such times, the safety of kids is paramount. In fact, in the case of heatwaves, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends keeping kids indoors as they are most susceptible to heat-related illnesses, such as heat strokes, sunburns, and dehydration.

Keep a track of such weather forecasts and proactively close the play area. Consider posting a sign that informs parents and guardians that the playground is temporarily closed for the safety of kids.

Summing Up

Playgrounds are a critical part of a kid’s growing years. Children spend a lot of time here socializing with other kids and getting involved in physical activities. Falls are also a part of this playtime! But it’s all good, as long as they have a safe surface to land on.

For this reason, most playgrounds install poured-in-place rubber surfaces that are both safe and accessible. However, like any other surfacing material, rubber surfacing tends to hold heat in extreme summer or due to prolonged exposure to sunlight. Little ones are easily affected by heated surfaces, increasing the risk of serious burns and dehydration.

Use the tips shared in this post to protect your poured-in-place playground surface from the rising temperatures and keep the kids safe as they spend an enjoyable time outdoors.

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Creative Director, Rubcorp Distribution, LLC

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