Outdoor recreation is essential to child development and supports their health and well-being. However, there are many important health considerations to consider with outdoor play, including elevated surface temperatures and harmful ultraviolet radiation exposure. Hot weather and the sun are especially prevalent in Florida, so schools and facilities with playground equipment should highly consider a shade solution.

A recent case study assessed 100 play structures in order to get a better look at sun protection on the playground, mainly assessing the relationship of surface-to-air temperatures on playground equipment and evaluating the prevalence of shade during peak midday hours. The results show that artificial surfaces, like playground equipment, tend to have much higher surface temperatures than natural surface materials. Out of all the playgrounds visited, an alarming 67% of which were not shaded between the peak hours for children to be playing outside.

Not only are important health risks, such as sunburns and temperature extremes being ignored in playground safety guidelines, but the essential information to avoid these risks is not readily available to those who have an influence on safe and active play experiences. Integrating shade into various areas of your play environment can help eliminate hot playground equipment and reduce exposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.

What benefits are there to shade structures?

Here are some great benefits to providing shade on the playground.

Children are able to enjoy the playground longer without overheating.

The Florida heat can become overwhelming after being in the direct sun for a while, although children rarely complain. This is why it is important to keep out for signs of heat exhaustion.

By installing playground shade sails, children will be able to be protected from the direct sun, allowing them to play outside longer. Not only do Florida sun shades offer protection from the sun, but they also keep the area an average of 20 degrees cooler.

Playground equipment will be cooler to the touch.

Many playground injuries come from children touching over-heated playground structure surfaces that are exposed to the sun for too long. A child’s skin can burn at 120 degrees Fahrenheit, and in the Florida heat, playground equipment reaching this temperature is very common. Shading your play area will help prevent children from getting burns.

This may come as a surprise, but playground burns can actually happen during the winter season if the playground is exposed to the sun long enough. Playground materials tend to absorb and conduct heat. Just because the temperature of the air is cooler, doesn’t mean that the equipment gets any cooler.

Protection from the elements will extend the life of your play equipment.

Playground shade sails not only protect children but will also increase the life of your playground equipment. Because the shade shields against sun exposure, it reduces fading and cracking that typically happens over time. When plastic is overheated, it may be subjected to warping and cracking, which creates a hazard for children at play.

It will protect children from harmful UV rays.

Scientific research shows that just a few sunburns can increase your child’s risk of skin cancer later on in life. By adding a shade to your playground, children can be free to enjoy the play area with less exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Commercial playground shades offer great protection, even more than if you were to wear a hat.

What Types of Playground Shades are Right for Your Playground?

Protect your outdoor play environment from the sun by integrating shade structures into any portion of active use zones.

Entire Play Structure Cover

Sail shades are made to cover part of your play structure or the entire playground. There are many different shapes available to meet your playgrounds needs, including square, rectangle or hexagon shape. There are also different sizes and colors that you can customize for your play structure. You can even overlap to cover more of the play area.

Integrated Shade

The most cost-effective way to install a shade to your playground is to opt for the integrated shade. This modular type shade allows you to utilize the posts of your play structures to add a canopy over various areas of the playground. This can be done when the playground is installed, or you can even have it added to your playground at a later time.

Swing Set Canopies

Did you know that there are special canopies to that cover your swing set? Give the children at your school the ability to swing for hours, without having to worry about the threat of prolonged sun exposure!

Shade Independent Play Areas

Smaller areas like playground bouncers, musical gardens, or free-standing climbers are perfect candidates for single-post umbrellas. These are an affordable option and save space as you only need one post to support the umbrella instead of multiple.

Bench Canopy

Bench Canopies are perfect for both students and teachers who would like to relax and get out of the sun. The shade attachment fits on the back of any 6-foot standard in-ground or surface mount park bench. This is a great way to enjoy the outdoors without roasting in the sun.

Florida sun shades are an important part of protecting children from the sun. It is important for schools, parks, and any facility with a playground to understand the importance of these structures.