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Hot Metal Slides at Forest Hills Playground Leave Parents Steamed

By Nigel Chiwaya | July 9, 2012 7:09am
Jacob, 9, pours water on a slide at Russell Sage playground to cool it down.
Jacob, 9, pours water on a slide at Russell Sage playground to cool it down.
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DNAInfo/Nigel Chiwaya

FOREST HILLS — Little Tessa Bare was never out of her mom Yona's sight as she ran around Russell Sage playground in Forest Hills last week.

The moment the 2-year-old made a move toward the play area's large metal slides, her mother was up and chasing after her.

"Tessa, don't go there," she told her daughter. "It's too hot."

Bare, like other parents at the playground, said the lack of shade at Russell Sage causes the playground's five metal slides to get extremely hot — leaving them afraid that their children could get burned.

The slides at the park on 68th Avenue and Booth Street — part of a climbing area that features monkey bars and a circular tunnel — are so scorching that some children pour water or throw water balloons at the slides in an attempt to cool them down, parents explained.

Most simply avoid them altogether.

After shooing away her daughter, Bare, 32, called the hot slides "dangerous," adding, "You can't even touch them."

DNAinfo.com New York recently measured the temperature of the slides with two thermometers.

The first read 99 degrees Fahrenheit on the slide that was most directly in the sunlight. The second one read 97.1 degrees for the same slide, while the air temperature was 84 degrees.

One parent, Amy Manheim, gestured to the empty slides at noon.

"Do you see anyone on the equipment?" she asked as she watched her 19-month-old son Aidan. "It's too hot."

Manheim, 51, said she wouldn't let Aidan anywhere near the slide, noting "I'm afraid he's going to burn himself."

The Parks Department said in a statement that it was aware park surfaces get hot in the summer.

"When temperatures rise, outdoor surfaces get hot," a spokesman said in an email. "There are signs posted at every playground in the city reminding park patrons to wear footwear at all times."

The spokesman went on to say that the department was actively building roofs over play equipment where possible, but warned parents to keep an eye on their children.

Still, spokesman said there were no plans to build a shelter at Russell Sage.

"We remind patrons to use common sense and supervise their children at all times when enjoying playgrounds," the spokesman explained.

A sign outside of Russell Sage reads: "Warning: some surfaces may become hot. Please take precautions with exposed skin." 

But Manheim said she hadn't seen the signs. She and other parents said they weren't enough of them and that the park desperately needed more shade. 

"There's not an ounce of shade anywhere in the park," said Betty Frons, 33.

Her 4-year-old son Jacob poured water on the slide, but Frons said she was still concerned because younger children don't always think about the temperature before going on the slides.

"If you're not watching them," Frons said, "they can burn themselves."