Heatwave playgrounds become no-go areas


As the country sweltered in record heats last week, some playgrounds became no-go areas with metal slides reaching temperatures of over 71 degrees.

The Metro newspaper reported that children’s play parks were “reminiscent of coronavirus lockdowns” as they lay empty due to the searing heat. Thermal imaging used by BBC Newsnight showed temperatures on a children’s slide in a playground in Manchester reaching over 71 degrees celsius and the paving underneath a swing set recording over 56 degrees.

Reporter Yasminara Khan told Newsnight:

We went to a local playground. It was deserted. It’s usually full of dog walkers and children playing.

She said the recordings showed how playgrounds can become no-go areas, and where the heat gets trapped, such as tarmac.

The rising frequency of such climate extremes is prompting playground designers to rethink the dominance of asphalt and metal in many municipal playgrounds. For example this Canadian study published in 2021  developed proposed guidelines for designing ‘thermally comfortable playgrounds’ including water features and natural vegetation; see Thermally Comfortable Playgrounds report.

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