NEW YORK—Public advocates and parents congregated in Carl Schurz Park in the Upper East Side on July 20 to insist that the city test overheating playground equipment. Children have been burned on playgrounds that can reach extraordinarily hot temperatures at a rate of more than a dozen each year.
Reported burns primarily come from the rubber ground material at the playgrounds.
“Products that reach extremely high temperatures on normal sunny days have no place in our city’s parks. I can’t understand why the Parks Department would not immediately remove materials that are severely burning children in playgrounds every summer,” said Reyhan Mehran, parent of a 14-month-boy who suffered second-degree burns and spent three days in the Intensive Care Unit after playing at Van Voorhees Playground in Brooklyn in 2004. “No parent should ever have to see their child suffer days in a burn center because they touched material in a playground for a couple of seconds.”
The City’s Parks Department responded by saying that New York City’s playgrounds are the best in the country and nationally recognized for safety.
“When temperatures rise, outdoor places, including streets, sidewalks, beaches, parking lots, patios, pool decks and playgrounds can get hot and we encourage all park patrons to use common sense and take normal precautions to stay safe by staying in the shade, drinking water and enjoying playgrounds with spray showers and mini-pools ,” according to a statement from the Parks Department.
“At Carl Schurz playground and other citywide playgrounds, we also have signs posted to avoid hot surfaces and always wear footwear.”
The City’s play equipment complies with the standards established by the American Society for Testing and Materials and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Parks Department said.
Activists said that despite a budget of tens of millions of dollars, the New York Department of Parks and Recreation continues to construct and renovate playgrounds with outdated materials that may reach a temperature of 165 degrees on the surface.