Editor’s note: As Arizona continues to battle COVID-19, please follow social distancing and face-covering guidelines in public at all times, including playgrounds.

A day at the playground can be tempting on a bright sunny day, but in the Arizona heat, it can also be dangerous.

Children playing outside during Arizona summers can face 100 days or more of temperatures north of 100°F. Too often playgrounds use heat-retaining, unnatural surfaces in the middle of parks with no shade, especially in Phoenix. These unshaded playgrounds can act as mini heat islands, which can disincentivize physically active play or even lead to burns.

ASU urban climate researchers Jennifer Vanos and Ariane Middel believe proper shading of playgrounds may be a solution.

“Shade protects children from the sun and keeps playground equipment cool and touchable,” said Middel. Their research provides insight into these spaces, as well as tips on keeping children safe in the heat.

Playground safety infographic

Infographic by Alex Davis/Media Relations and Strategic Communications, Arizona State University