Are your outdoor play spaces safe during warmer weather? Use these resources to check
With temperatures rising, the New South Wales Department of Education has reminded early childhood education and care (ECEC) services and educators to consider the risks to children’s health and safety that can arise in warmer weather, and shared a range of resources to ensure safe outdoor play.
The Department issued a statement reminding services of the risks to children during summer play, which can include:
- hot equipment
- hot surfaces
- access to bodies of water (filled water troughs/containers/trays, pools, ponds, lakes, and beaches).
“Regardless of the time of day, it is important that these risks are managed adequately to ensure children are able to learn and have fun safely,” the Department said.
The NSW Government states that all services must ensure that children:
- are wearing sunscreen and hats;
- have adequate shade to play in outdoor areas; and,
- regularly drink plenty of water.
Kidsafe NSW and the Cancer Council have useful factsheets on shaded play areas that minimise unnecessary UV radiation exposure, sunburn and dehydration, which are linked below.
“Keep in mind that even though the air temperature may feel fine, concrete, asphalt and dark-coloured plastics and rubbers are particularly susceptible to reaching temperatures that can cause burns,” the Department warned.
The Department also said that, while using a thermometer to test surface temperatures is useful, it is important that educators use their own judgement before children commence outdoor play by testing equipment and surfaces by touching them to ensure they are safe for play.
“Even if children are wearing shoes, other exposed skin can come in contact with the hot ground and hot equipment. Younger children’s reflexes do not kick in the same way as they do with older children, so a child may feel a burn but may not understand to remove themselves from the surface,” said the Department.
For more information on safe play in warmer weather, the NSW Government suggests reviewing the following links:
- Kidsafe NSW fact sheet on playground surfaces
- Kidsafe NSW article How hot is too hot to play?
- Cancer Council Victoria Be SunSmart, Play Sunsmart brochure
- Cancer Council SunSmart recommendations for childcare centres
- Cancer Council information on the UV index
- Kidsafe NSW information on water safety
- Royal Life Saving NSW educational resources on water safety.
For further information, or queries, please contact the NSW Early Childhood Education and Care Directorate at [email protected] or call 1800 619 113.