on May 08, 2017 Canopy How To Guide

How to Practice Canopy Tent Safety

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Canopy tents are not dangerous. They alone are not hazardous, rather it is mishandling and inadequate use that could involve them in dangerous situations.  Their first and foremost purpose of a canopy is to provide shade from the sun exposure in general to the elements. That is what a canopy does. Second, if it is a printed canopy, it helps you with branding and outdoor marketing so you can expose your brand in public while looking like a legitimate organization. And Finally, a canopy tent is a portable kiosk that represents your company anywhere you go. All of this is possible because the canopy is a compact (for what it does) promotional product that can be taken just about anywhere and withstand almost any environment. It is a pretty straightforward promotional item, but we do have some safety tips and tricks to avoid unsafe practices. 

Why is canopy tent safety important? 

We cannot stress how important canopy safety is. Without the proper handling and setup there can be trip hazards, fire hazards and even tents flying away. None of those sound like scenarios that we would want to experience or be involved in. Now many of these are just common sense and were happy were not the ones that had to find out the hard way, but we have taken note of what not to do over the years. In order to help you avoid being in any of these situations we have come up with a list of common do's and don'ts to ensure basic canopy safety is met and understood.

How to avoid your canopy from flying away!

Our canopies can typically weigh anywhere between 40 to 150 pounds and in high winds air pressure can build up underneath the canopy top and flip a canopy over or drag it across open areas. The grand majority of canopies are manufactured out of aluminum or steel and they can be extremely dangerous because they can cause damage to property or even harm someone. A gust of wind can sneak up on you and take your tent from one second to the next (not that we want to make it sound scary.) Of course, it doesn't mean that your canopy is not safe in any windy situation, but we do recommend that you remove your canopy from wherever it is installed if winds exceed 15 miles per hour. At 15 miles per hour any collapsible canopy can be blown over, dragged across open spaces or smashed into things (even if it's tied down or staked into the ground.) While everything we have mentioned so far is true, there is no need to fear as there are proper ways to tie down and secure a tent to prevent any of these things from happening.

How to tie down your canopy-

  1. Use stakes to secure your canopy into the ground. All of our pop up canopies have holes for stakes on the base plates. Now although they aren't too big, they are the perfect size for our free stakes. Now they will not be enough for winds exceeding 15 miles per hour and we still recommend (We provide stakes and rope with all of our pop up canopies!) The beauty of our stakes is that they are small and they are not trip hazards like most of the stakes everyone uses.  
  2. Another solution to all of this is to use canopy sandbags and since we include the stakes, then why not use both? The canopy sandbags wrap around the canopy legs and they weigh 25 lbs. per bag. They offer a discreet solution while securing the tent down from a moderate breeze or below.
  3. Ballast are also a great solution to keep a canopy anchored to the ground. One of our biggest clients is Disneyland and they need to ensure that their tents do not fly away, ever. A 10x10 canopy needs approximately 100 lbs. of weight for it to be anchored down to the ground properly.  A typical canopy ballast is 350 lbs. and if you anchor four of them around a 10x10 canopy it will secure a canopy without you having to worry about your canopy being dragged away into the distance by the wind. 

How not to tie down your canopy-

When tying down a canopy we have seen people try all sorts of gimmicks and contraptions. We have seen people tie anywhere from buckets full of rocks to tree trunks and cement blocks. In the following list I will go over what not to do and how not to use unauthorized weights. The list of the following items is not here because they do not work, rather because they can be dangerous or obtrusive. They can create trip hazards and possibly injure someone. We would just recommend that nobody use any of the 

  1. Cement Blocks: Cement blocks are usually tied down to the canopy frames and they do work, but they are definitely not enough. They weigh 28 pounds on average and they can be used as anchors to weigh down the canopy, but they aren't too safe because they can be obtrusive causing possible trip hazards. The ropes they are tied with can also cause anyone walking by to snag themselves on the rope (now how possible is this? Very unlikely, but it is possible so that why it's listed here.) 
  2. Milk Gallons: Another absolute no-no is using water gallons. We have seen people use water gallons filled with water or other liquids and tied onto the canopies from the floor, but we have also seen people tie the gallons onto the canopy frames from the inner corners (approximately 7 feet from the floor) They are also not the correct weight for a canopy and they can also be blown away.  
  3. Home-made canopy weights:They are another set of articles that we strongly recommend people from staying away from. There is nothing wrong with home-made accessories but when it comes to safety it is paramount to make sure the accessory is absolutely safe. As a matter of fact, most home-made weights are not fire marshal approved because they can be hazardous. People make them out of cement and PVC pipes or they will fill a bucket with cement and add handles to it to tie rope to it, kinda like a ballast. The issue with this is the ballast system created at home is not secure and safe the way a certified canopy company creates them. Another common misconception is that you can carry these around and install them at every location you are taking them but a ballast is more of a long term solution to a  canopy that will be stationary.
  4. There are also many people who use metal weights attached to canopies, but the issue with them is that they are insanely heavy and they are not designed for canopies. Now there are some designed for canopies, but they do pose a trip hazard since they're basically a large chunk of metal attached to your canopy and they have to be tied down or else they will slip off and not be tightly secured onto the canopy. 

Now one of the really important things is to secure your canopy without creating a trip hazard or placing anything in the way that might blocks someones' path in and out of your tent. You also want to make sure that all of your ropes and ratchets tied properly onto the tent and frame because if they are loose or drape onto the floor someone can trip or get caught on it and possibly hurt themselves. Another way to secure your canopy is to tie tent sandbags on the canopy legs. Tent sandbags wrap around the leg and they weigh the canopy down an extra 25 pounds on each leg and they look nice compared to a normal sandbag. A normal sandbag is not a good option because they not only look bad, but they are also a trip hazard because they are big and  take up too much space (like the milk gallons or cement blocks) to anyone walking near the canopy.Finally, one of the other ways to secure a tent is to tie it down with a ballast on each leg, which might be overkill because we recommend 25 pounds of weight be added to each leg and a ballast weighs 350 pounds. We do have customers who need ballast to make sure their canopies are completely secure but they are also planning to secure their canopy tents for more long term projects instead of a pop up canopy that is going to be transported and installed multiple times. Disney actually uses ballast on all of the canopies we provided them with because they cannot afford to have injuries, nor catastrophes in which tents could start flying into the air.  Once again though, we want to make sure people know that ballast are more of a long term solution as opposed to portable weights. Below is a video on why it is important to secure your promotional items. 

Are There Any More Canopy Hazards?  

Now as far as safety goes, we know that making sure a canopy doesn't fly away with a gust of wind is not the only way to be safe. Tents can be placed in hazardous positions and places where they can catch fire as well. Fire safety is a serious subject so we have gone ahead and made sure that all of our canopies are CSFM 701 certified and NFPA certified, but that doesn't mean they are indestructible. We have been manufacturing our canopies for more than 20 years and we use materials to create a canopy with fire-retardant in it so it can prevent fire from spreading everywhere onto a canopy if it does come in contact with fire. Fire hazards are of serious concern to the NFPA and they operate in the entire U.S. so any canopy that is installed in the U.S. has to be NFPA certified. If not a canopy has to undergo inspection and it has to be approved by local fire marshals. They then give you a certificate that approves your canopy based on an event to event basis and it has to be inspected every time, or you could purchase a canopy with a fire marshal approval seal on it like ours. We have also seen many canopies which are not CSFM or NFPA approved and they are usually companies trying to save a couple of dollars by using cheaper materials and we believe that to be deceitful to the buyer since some still place their stamp of approval on these canopies. Every single canopy that has a fire marshal approval stamp on it also includes a license number that was granted to each canopy company so if you want to check when they last received their fire marshal seal you can call the local fire marshal and have them look up your seal approval number. We go the extra mile and use CFSM and NFPA approved materials because we want to make sure the canopies we manufacture are safe. Below we list some tips on how to be safe around fire hazards. 

  1. Electrical safety: Electricity might be necessary for a number of reasons in a canopy. You might need to setup a lighting kit or a lighting system of some sort underneath your tent. You might also need to connect some machinery/appliances underneath your tent. We recommend that anything that needs to be plugged is plugged in with a heavy duty power cord. We also recommend that you use a functional power chord. We also recommend that the chord is checked to see if it is frayed, missing prongs, or  and make sure it is not being pinched in any segment along the way. For more information we recommend that you further inform yourself on electrical fire safety. 
  2. Fireworks: We recommend that canopies be installed away from anywhere there will be fireworks. It's also a given that fireworks should not be used under a canopy, ever.  Also, if a neighbor is using fireworks we recommend a canopy be removed for safety. 
  3. Placing a tent over an open fire: We have seen many people use canopies alongside their barbecues or by bonfires. There are immediate fire hazards with these two scenarios but there are precautions you can take to avoid possible fires. With both scenarios you can have smoke that gets caught within the canopy. With these two scenarios you will have extreme amounts of heat underneath the canopy and that too can be dangerous. A bonfire with an open flame might be nice, but sometimes the flames can get a bit out of control and they are insanely hot. Now our canopy tops are fire retardant, but we recommend you have a canopy at least 5 meters away from an open flame.

If a lighting system is not installed safely, then there is a possibility that a fire could break out from within a canopy (due to the lighting system, not the canopy). Lighting should be safe and simple. For lighting kits we have created a system that is safe to use while saving you time, headaches, and storage space. LED Canopy Lights are easy to use because they use no cables and they can be installed in a matter of minutes. They have rechargeable batteries that can be charged in 8 hours and they last for 8 hours at full capacity and 36 hours if they are set to half capacity. At the same time you will be able to illuminate your canopy within minutes as opposed to setting up the canopy and adding a lighting system that is hard to install and use and having it be possibly dangerous. So do not place a canopy near an open flame, fireworks, or near a faulty electrical system.  

We strongly believe canopy tents should not be utilized during extreme, severe, or dangerous weather conditions. High winds, heavy snowfall and other unmanageable weather conditions are not safe enough to set up a canopy. We also believe you should only use the canopies if you are an adult and if a minor were to be using the canopy we recommend it be under adult supervision or with the help of an adult who understands these safety guidelines. Be mindful of the canopy's surrounding and keep an eye out for anything that could potentially damage the canopy or make the canopy unsafe for anyone in it. When installing a canopy it's a good idea to have a buddy so you do not strain yourself. Some of our bigger canopies will require the help from someone so that installing it is easier, if not you might installing a canopy a bit more difficult. Also, if you have any further questions about canopy safety feel free to give us a call or email us and we will be happy to help.