It’s summertime and that means one thing! Lots of outdoor playtime!
Even for folks with active outdoor lives, summer and the sunshine that comes with it just hits us differently. It feels easier to get outdoors, less gear to drag than when it’s cold and snowy. For people in the warmer climates, you might not know the struggle of piling into the snowsuit – hats, mitts, boots, scarves included – only to need to use the washroom within 5 minutes…but trust us…summer is much more of an enjoyable play experience!
Grab a few toys, and out the door you can go! The beach, the trails, the mountains, wherever you are is brighter, more colourful and jam-packed with new animal life. Summertime even has its own fragrant scent. Ocean breezes, fresh cut grass, flowers in bloom – sorry to our seasonal allergy sufferers.
This is the time of year when additional safety measures should be considered. Springtime play, and sweater weather has moved into heat warnings and UV index ratings.
If you have kids at home, chances are the playground is a local hangout for you during the summer season. While playgrounds are designed with physical safety in mind, they aren’t always set up for comfort in the summertime heat.
Here are some of our summertime safety types for a more enjoyable play time experience:
Check for weather warnings and UV ratings.
Before you head outdoors check to see if there are heat advisories happening during the duration of time you plan on being outdoors. Keep in mind that the midday temperatures are typically the warmest and play accordingly. Play areas, like playgrounds, are often less busy during morning and late afternoon play, which may also offer cooler temperatures. Summer storms – lightening, thunder, and flash showers – can leave you stranded. Keep an eye on the sky for grey clouds and be prepared to seek shelter if you hear thunder rolling.
Test playground equipment temperatures
Direct sunlight onto playground equipment can raise temperatures significantly. Depending on your location, the rise in temperatures can cause surfaces of playground equipment to reach upwards of 130°F. If it feels too hot to comfortable touch for more than a few seconds, it may be too hot for your little ones to play on. Check metal surfaces like slides, but also handrails, ladder rungs, and monkey bars. Always err on the side of caution and wait it out until there’s more cloud coverage, or the temperature has dropped. Ideally, find a playground that has shaded areas, or tree coverage.
Summertime footwear – open toed shoes or flipflops – are common in the warmer weather, and sometimes you’re at the playground already before you realize that this type of footwear is not appropriate for playing safety at the playground. Trips, slips, and (lack of) grip are all potential safety issues at a playground. When the temperature heats up, you add in potential burns to the soles of feet, too. Plus, there’s nothing more annoying that getting pebbles or sand into your sandals. Save yourself the potential stubbed toes by keeping a spare pair of sneakers in the trunk of your vehicle.
Hats and Hydration
Summer hats, light clothing, and sunglasses are a must on a hot play day. Be cautious of hats with draw strings as they can be a choking hazard while playing. A wide brimmed hat, or a sun hat, is a great way to keep the sun off your face, neck and even shoulders. Make sure to keep extra supplies in your vehicle for those impromptu stops at the park.
Seeking out play areas with water fountains can be a great way to ensure you’re staying hydrated, but when in doubt always make sure to pack a water bottle for every person. It’s just as important to take care of your hydration as well.
For parents and caregivers, sometimes sitting on the bench while watching your kids play can feel a bit boring (it’s okay, we understand). With that, some people like to bring books to read, or rely on their phone for entertainment. It can be easy to lose yourself – and the concept of time – when reading a good book or article on your phone so set yourself reminders to encourage the kids to take water breaks, and shade breaks.
Weather, temperature, footwear, hats & hydration. The 5 most important things to remember for summertime play!