Investigation: Hot playgrounds lacking shade


It turns out playgrounds across the Valley are some of the hottest places to be in the summer. In Clovis, only a fraction of the city’s parks were built with shade and city leaders say it all comes down to money. 

“It is a constant battle. It’s exhausting as a parent to have to keep rerouting him,” said Celeste Labiento who brings her one-year-old son Levi to Clovis parks all the time. 

But in the summer hot playground equipment has her on guard.  

“I had to pull my son off of it earlier because it was too hot to touch,” said Labiento. 

We gave Celeste an infrared surface thermometer to see just how hot the slide was. 

“Wow. So it’s 154,” said Labiento. 

“it’s amazing because you just don’t think about it. I wouldn’t of thought. Touching it I know it’s hot, but I wouldn’t of known it was that hot,” said Labiento. 
We continued to test Clovis playgrounds.

At 3:30 in the afternoon slides in direct sunlight clocked in at 159 degrees. The rubber pellets padding the ground were even hotter, 164 degrees.

How about the baby swing? 
The side was 132 degrees and the chain around 150. 
Doctors say hot playgrounds can send children to the emergency room. 

“We’ll see lots of contact burns, very small burns like you would if you touch an iron and move away, so luckily we’re not seeing any severe burns, but I can imagine with an infant that can’t move and put them in a basket swing it could cause severe burns,” said Doctor Geetanjali Srivastava of Valley Children’s Hospital.  

In the shade at the same park this bench was 91 degrees and a slide just 84 it’s a big difference for families wanting to play in the summer. 

The problem is in Clovis there are 53 parks with playgrounds. Only about 15-percent have shade built in. Clovis Parks Manager Eric Aller says there’s a reason.

“It’s expensive to do that. We’re spending a little over 100 thousand this year to do two parks,” said Aller. 

Aller says the shade structures are expensive because of how they’re engineered and they have to be anchored deep into the ground, but maintenance can be pricey too. Parents have already pointed out the canopy above Dry Creek Park needs to be fixed. 

“We see the vision as adding more and more shade as time goes on as the years go by, but again it’s budget driven and it is priority driven. The shade is nice, but if your roads are full of pot holes and you can’t get to the parks you know you have to weigh that,” said Aller.

Until more shade is built, Celeste urges parents to find it where they can and to let the city know they want it. 

“Especially for the little ones and they just go go go and if they aren’t shaded at the least you know there could be some problems,” said Labiento. 

The Clovis Parks Department has heard the concerns of residents. Starting in July crews will build shade structures at Railroad and Helm Ranch parks. In the meantime, doctors say the touch test works best. Feel the slides and equipment first to make sure your kids are playing somewhere that’s not too hot. 

The City of Fresno has provided us with this information and list of parks that have shade built over playgrounds.

Parks with shade structures over the playground:
Woodward Park (3 shade structures), Todd Beamer, Selma Layne, Melody, Mosqueda, Lions, Fig Garden Loop, Inspiration, JS Khalra, Al Radka, Martin Ray Reilly, Cultural Arts District, Almay.
Parks are slated to have new shade structures in 2019:
Corozza, Chandler, Dickey and TC Wills.

Clovis list of shaded parks:

Dry Creek Park

Letterman Park 

Pasa Tiempo 

Shade being built to use in August of 2018:

Railroad Park 

Helm Ranch Park

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