Adequate shade provides good UV protection in high use areas at peak UV times. The sun’s UV is most intense during the middle of the day (between 10 – 3pm). Where do most children play during this time? That area has a priority for shade. Many children like to play in smaller cluster groups so areas of shade scattered across the play space may be more appropriate.
Think about protection from direct and indirect UV. How dense is the tree canopy? How dense is the shade under the shade sail? What are the surfaces around the play space? Usually if something reflects a lot of light, it will reflect a lot of UV ie sandpit. The more rough, natural and dark the surface, the less UV reflected.
Research shows that spacious preschool environments with trees, shrubbery, and broken ground provides better sun protection and triggers more physical activity in outdoor play. A natural outdoor play space is also included in the national regulations (113 Outdoor space—natural environment).
Cancer Council cannot accurately (or definitively) recommend how much shade (quantity) is required to protect the children and educators at your service. Each service is unique and will therefore have different types of shade (including natural and built) and needs. Cancer Council advises that good use of shade is just as important as the quantity of shade. Services are therefore advised to plan outdoor activities for shaded areas and move them throughout the day to take advantage of shade patterns.
Cancer Council recommends you monitor the shade you currently have to see if it is a) protecting the majority of children at play (ie is it positioned where children are playing) at peak UV times and b) providing good protection (UPF) from the sun’s UV radiation?
Click here to be directed to Cancer Council's free online shade audit tool.