Parks and Recreation- Shade structures are an important park amenity when building a Splashpad® or playground.
Depending on where you live, summer can get extremely hot and humid. Everyone wants to be outside and shade can be your best friend during these brutal hot summer days. Parks & Rec Business Magazine recently posted an article about how shade shouldn’t be neglected during summer days, especially when adding a Splashpad or playground to a park.
Being outdoors is the number one healthy activity to engage in during the spring and summer because no one wants to be confined indoors on a beautiful day. Unfortunately, shade can sometimes be overlooked when building a park with a Splashpad.
Although Splashpads are water playgrounds, water will only keep you cooled off- not protected. Many children and parents will spend hours at a Splashpad or water park, but they neglect putting on sunscreen and being aware of how much sun they are exposed to.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, as little as 15 minutes of unprotected contact with the sun is considered unhealthy. Our skin can continue to be damaged hours after being exposed to harmful UV radiation and it can take up to 12 hours for a person to show the full effects of sun exposure. Each year, there are more cases of melanoma (skin cancer) diagnosed than all new cases of lung, breast, colon, and prostate cancer combined. Sadly, one American dies from skin cancer every hour (skincancer.org).
Sunscreen and protective clothing are helpful but families are still looking for shaded areas in parks to take a break from the sun. Therefore, shade structures are becoming more popular when designing a park with a Splashpad or playground.
When incorporating a shade structure into your park, items to consider include cost, function and design. The materials and the size of the structure will have the biggest impact on cost. Fabric, canvas, wood, metal and plastic are among several options to choose from. Size will also have an impact on the amount of labor required to install the structure. As for the functioning side, you want to make sure it is waterproof, fireproof, easy to clean and allows for proper air circulation.
Outdoor play should be fun, exciting and safe. The facts about skin cancer are hard to ignore and are motivating park professionals to take positive action and add shade structures to help protect their communities.