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As a New Orleans-based company, we know the sun in Louisiana and Mississippi is no joke.

While it brings warmth and vibrancy to our region, it also poses a significant health risk, especially for kids and families who love spending hours outdoors in parks and on playgrounds.

Last year’s record-breaking heatwave saw temperatures soaring above 110°F in some areas. This served as a stark reminder of the importance of sun protection and shade, particularly in outdoor play areas. Both New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana had their hottest summers on record in 2023, according to the National Weather Service, and this year’s summer is expected to bring more record-breaking heat.

That’s where shade structures become the unsung heroes of playgrounds. More than just providing a cool respite from the scorching sun, they offer a variety of benefits for protecting children, and the play structures themselves.

Sun Safety for Young Skin

Children are particularly vulnerable to heat and sun exposure. Their skin is thinner and more sensitive than adults. This makes them more susceptible to sunburn and its harmful consequences. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, and early exposure to UV radiation significantly increases this risk.

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends minimizing sun exposure, especially during peak sun hours from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and using sun-protective measures like sunscreen, hats, and protective clothing. However, the most effective method for limiting sun exposure is blocking the sun’s rays with physical barriers. Shade structures, shade canopies, and shade sails offer that layer of protection by blocking up to 98% of harmful UV rays and creating a safe haven for kids to play freely without worrying about sunburn.

An infographic showing how heat from a plastic playground slide can quickly transfer to a child's hand and cause a burn.Without shade structures, playground equipment surface temperatures can soar under the summer sun, and that heat can quickly transfer to and damage kids’ skin. Shade structures not only protect children from the sun, but they also create more inclusive play environments. Children with certain skin conditions or sensitivities can now enjoy the playground without worrying about sun exposure, fostering a more equitable and enjoyable experience for all.

Shade Structures Protect Playgrounds, Too

The relentless Gulf South sun can wreak havoc on materials, causing fading, warping, cracking, and premature damage to playgrounds. Shade structures act as a shield, protecting equipment from the sun’s harsh rays, ensuring its durability and preventing costly repairs or replacements.

Pelican Playgrounds: Partnering for Sun-Safe Play

At Pelican Playgrounds, we understand the importance of sun safety and take pride in offering a variety of playground shade solutions from our trusted partners, Americana Outdoors and USA Shade. We offer a wide range of options, from colorful shade sails to durable canopies, to seamlessly integrate with your existing playground design and provide optimal sun protection. Shade structures can also be customized to include things like a school’s name and mascot. We also offer turnkey playground structures with integrated shade elements. Check out some examples of protective shade installations we’ve done for our customers:

Covered Outdoor Physical Education Classroom in Vancleave, Mississippi

An outdoor physical education classroom. The ground is blue from poured-in-place rubber, and shows green ExoKids exercise equipment pieces. The area is covered with a blue shade structure.

This outdoor physical education classroom features ExoKid fitness equipment.

We created a state-of-the-art outdoor physical education classroom for our customer Vancleave Lower Elementary School in Vancleave, Mississippi. It features ExoKids fitness equipment, as well as a gaga pit and GeoCool by IDG.

The outdoor classroom is completely covered with a shade structure from our partner USA Shade and has poured-in-place safety surfacing from No Fault Surfaces. This exciting outdoor classroom will provide students with dozens of exercises to choose from during gym time, while keeping them safe from that Mississippi sun.

Early Childhood Playground with Shade Structure in Youngsville, Louisiana

The image shows an outdoor early childhood playground covered with a blue shade structure. The playground equipment pieces are orange, lime green, and blue. The playground sits on top of turf grass.

This early childhood learning center has a covered play area, providing plenty of shade for kids.

Protecting kids from the sun is especially important in early childhood when kids are at an age where sunburns and harmful UV rays can cause long-lasting damage. We helped our customer STEAM Academy Preschool in Youngsville, Louisiana, create a shaded outdoor playground area for their students to ensure play time is fun, and most of all, sun safe. This playground area features a USA Shade structure and Playworld equipment in a neon color scheme.

Pelican Playgrounds is Here to Help

While the initial cost of shade structures may seem like an additional expense, the long-term benefits outweigh the investment. Protecting children’s health, ensuring the longevity of your playground equipment, and promoting inclusivity make shade structures a wise and responsible choice for any community or school playground in Louisiana and Mississippi.

Summer is around the corner, which means it’s important to plan your shade installation projects as soon as possible. Email us at or call us at 844-504-7529 today to discuss your shade structure needs and create a safe, sun-smart play space for the children in your community.