During Queensland’s extreme summer heat, early childhood services need to keep children safe from the dangers of the sun and high temperatures.
Now is the time to ensure you are taking reasonable precautions to protect children from harm and have effective sun protection policies and procedures in place.
This includes protecting children from the risks of overheated play equipment and surfaces.
While it is up to each service to risk assess its premises and equipment, the following information may assist approved providers, nominated supervisors and educators to meet their obligations to protect children from harm, including serious burns.
Play equipment and other surfaces
During the hotter months, playground equipment and surfaces can heat up rapidly and retain heat, which is a serious burns risk to children.
The following 5 practice tips may assist in preventing scalds and burns from overheated play equipment and other objects:
- Regularly check the temperature of outdoor facilities and equipment on hot, sunny days to see if they are safe for children to use. This is crucial for surfaces that children may touch, kneel, sit or lie on.
- Make sure all equipment and surfaces are suitable for outdoor use by checking manufacturers’ warnings and instructions.
- Consider if children should wear shoes outside.
- Consider if shade structures should be moved throughout the day or seasonally to protect areas such as play equipment from direct sunlight.
- Train all staff to test outdoor surface temperatures and follow manufacturer/ installer instructions for equipment use.
Throughout the year, Queensland experiences high to extreme levels of ultraviolet radiation (UVR), contributing to one of the highest rates of melanoma in the world.
Exposure to too much of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation can also cause sunburn, skin and eye damage and other forms of skin cancer.
Early childhood services need to ensure that children are protected from high levels of UVR, especially as their skin is particularly vulnerable.
The current advice from Queensland Health is to ‘slip, slop, slap, seek and slide’.
This means slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen, slap on a hat, seek shade and slide on wraparound sunglasses.
Where services don’t include the use of sunglasses in their policy, adequate clothing, sun protective hats, sunscreen and shade can help reduce exposure.
Early childhood services should have up-to-date sun safe policies and procedures that address the current sun safety advice from
While it is important to consider the times during which children are outside, services that maintain effective sun safe practices do not need to limit children’s access to outdoor play unnecessarily.
Remember to ensure that children also have adequate access to drinking water to prevent dehydration during the hotter months.
Failing to protect children from harm and hazards, including from overheated play equipment or playground surfaces, may lead the regulatory authority to take enforcement action.
This can include prosecution, which can carry serious penalties of up to $10,000 (for a person) and $50,000 (in any other case).
Related regulatory information
- National Law Section 167 – Offence relating to the protection of children from harm and hazards