Simple solution to keeping BC playgrounds cool under scorching sun | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Simple solution to keeping BC playgrounds cool under scorching sun

Image Credit: ADOBE STOCK

Summer means outdoor activities in the hot sun and protecting children from intense heat during these months should be a priority.

According to Susan Herrington, a professor of applied science and landscape architect at the University of British Columbia, planting more trees to offer shade is a simple but powerful solution.

Herrington said children are more vulnerable than adults for heat related illness and UV radiation, which is why it is essential to add more trees to playgrounds.

“Shade protects against skin cancer and keeps us comfortable. It reduces sun exposure that can lead to sunburn or overheating.” she said in an UBC media release issued, July 4.

Trees and plants reduce the air temperature by 30 per cent and provide shade to play or relax under, keeping internal temperatures lower and healthier.

Shade provided by trees reduces risks or sunburn, overheating and keeps heat related illness down.

Trees and plants are overlooked in playground design and need to be added for enriched learning and playing experiences, she said.

“Research shows that playing with natural elements enhances physical activity, emotion regulation, social development and readiness for learning. It is more complex, more diverse and lasts longer than playing on equipment-based playgrounds,” Herrington said.

Herrington along with four students analyzed trees around the Vancouver campus that could also be used in parks, noting which provided the best shade, were fire resistant, could withstand climate change and were native to the land.

They marked 33 trees, shrubs and vines that could help to cool the area and provide shade on playground. Using trees that will provide canopy when they leaf is important to provide shade suitable to play in.

"Shade makes outdoor places more inviting and enjoyable by offering dappled light — patches of light and shadow created when sunlight passes through the leaves. People tend to find dappled light restorative,” she said.

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