Add Shade to the Playground
Most people are well aware of the dangers of too much sun exposure. The sun's harmful UV rays are the leading cause of skin cancer, and more people are finding ways to protect themselves and their children by using sunscreen and looking for shady places to play. Safety is a top concern on the playground, and you can take your playground safety initiatives even further by installing shade to protect children from the sun while they're playing. As an added bonus, shade structures will also keep the air beneath cooler, protecting kids from hot equipment.
Q: Our play areas get hot, and we want to protect kids and families from the sun. What should we consider?
A: Trees can provide a good amount of shade, but not every site is blessed with a tree canopy. In addition, leaves and debris need to be removed from playground safety surfaces and equipment. If you really want to protect kids from the harmful effects of too much sun, consider installing shade canopies to protect your playground.
There are various styles, colors and designs available to suit the needs of almost any playground. Look for canopies that are designed to block up to 97 percent of the sun's harmful UV rays, while keeping playground temperatures as much as 30 degrees cooler. The shade fabric should be breathable and weather-resistant. Choose fabric with knitted, lock-stitch construction to offer more air movement and better channeling of cool breezes. Additionally, look for high-density polyethylene that is resistant to mildew, fading and UV rays.
You can find shade products that are designed specifically to attach to play equipment or that can be used as stand-alone products at ground level.
Q: We have a unique playground, and are worried that typical shade structures won't suit the space. Are there shade options that minimize the number of posts if space is an issue?
A: If space is limited or your playground is unique, traditional shade structures might get in the way. Look for cantilevers for areas that need a lot of shade but don't have much available ground space. These shade products are designed for spaces that need to keep posts to a minimum, and create a cool, open feel.
Q: What else should we consider?
A: You can find myriad shade options in a variety of colors, so it's easy to select the right design and color scheme to fit in with your play equipment and your site.
If you want to provide another option for keeping cool on the hottest play days, look for shade canopies that feature a cool misting option.
Also, don't forget to provide shade to parents and caregivers who are watching their kids have fun. Shade structures can be placed over seating as well as picnic areas to give everyone a chance to get out of the sun and cool off.
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