TYLER (KYTX) - With temperatures climbing into the high 90s -- and even triple digits in some parts of East Texas -- parents are constantly warned about the dangers of leaving their children in cars. But what about letting them play on hot playgrounds?
Armed with an infrared thermometer, CBS19 put the equipment at one Tyler park to the test to see just how hot it gets. And what we discovered might have you rethinking that afternoon trip to the park.
At Faulkner Park Thursday, it's a sweltering 98 degrees. But a plastic slide that's been baking in the sun all day reached temperatures of 138 degrees.
"It's kind of a big situation for all the moms here in town," mother of two Margaret Stone said. "There aren't many playgrounds where you can go with the little ones. You worry about them burning their bottoms, or their legs, and even their little hands."
We asked Stone if her kids had gone down that slide today.
"No, definitely not," she said.
And as for the fact that the slide was nearly 140 degrees?
"That's unreal," Stone said. "It's kind of a hazard for these little children."
And she's right. Every summer, dozens of kids across the country end up in the emergency room with serious burns because of overheated playground equipment.
"The most common scenario is a baby -- usually an infant who can't turn yet is usually the one who gets burned," Dr. Roger Khetan, with Baylor Health Systems, said.
But it's not just the slides that parents need to worry about. An alligator bench at the park was even hotter than the slide -- a scorching 139.5 degrees.
And a baby swing? 123.6 degrees.
Which might explain why we didn't find any kids on the playground. Instead, they were cooling off on the sprayground.
"They wanted to go down there and play and I told them, 'You can't! It's too hot. You'll burn your hands,'" Stone said.
Most of the cases Dr. Khetan sees of kids burned by hot playground equipment are minor, but he says he's seen some extreme cases, too.
"It's a blistering burn with some of the skin coming off," he said.
Stone says she would like to see more covered playgrounds, or at least signs warning kids to be careful.
"I think that more playgrounds should probably be covered or there should be some sort of warning, like hours to play on it or something like that," she said. "Because in August in late afternoon, it's always going to be hot."
Experts say parents should always touch the surface of the equipment to make sure it's not too hot, before you let your kids play on it.
Also, try to avoid playgrounds during the peak afternoon hours when it's hottest. And like Stone said, look for parks that have either covered equipment, or offer some type of shade over the playground.
Doctors say toddlers are most vulnerable to second and third-degree burns, because their skin is so delicate, and because they don't pull away from hot surfaces as quickly as older children.
And finally, make sure your kids keep their shoes on at the park. We found that even the ground we tested was 130 degrees.