Problem Solver - August 2007
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Providing Reliable Sun Protection

We need to protect our park patrons from sun exposure and overheating.

Your concerns are certainly justified. With the growing concern over the Earth's ozone layer, the dangers of exposure to the sun's UV rays and the increase in the incidence of skin cancer, people are increasingly seeking shaded areas over sun-exposed areas at public gathering places. According to the National Cancer Institute, more than 65,000 people will be diagnosed with skin cancer in 2007, and it will cause an estimated 10,850 deaths this year. Melanoma is one of the most frequent cancers in adolescents and young adults and accounts for one out of every nine cases of cancer in 15- to 29-year-olds. Help diminish your visitors' exposure to harmful UV rays—and protect property from damage—with a pre-engineered outdoor shade structure.

Shade structure installations are commonly found at public parks, pools, athletic fields, schools, hotels and resorts, restaurants, office buildings and anywhere people gather outdoors for recreation or business. They are also ideal over playground equipment, bleachers, concession areas, pool decks and parking lots. In hot, sunny Miami, a shade structure was selected to provide cover for the city's high-profile Moore Tennis Center. They're also in use at the prestigious Park at East Hills in East Hills, N.Y., where summertime temperatures can approach 100 degrees.

These structures protect people and property with permanent canopies, tents and shelters that block up to 99 percent of dangerous UV rays, while reducing the temperature index by as much as 20 degrees. Costing much less than traditional wood or metal shelters, a pre-engineered structure often features sturdy metal frames and construction from specially designed polyethylene. Look for fabric that's manufactured from high-density polyethylene, which is naturally resistant to dirt and does not retain moisture. It's also important to get a shade cover fabric that's treated with fire retardants and passes the requirements established under the NFPA 701 Test Method 2 test standards for flammability, including the accelerated water leaching protocol. You can find these covers in a variety of colors. You can even match your facility's color scheme to the heavy-duty steel frame, which can generally be found in several powder-coat finishes.

Ask shade company representatives about how the canopies are attached and removed. Some are so easy, just one person can quickly and easily handle attaching or removing the canopy for seasonal use. These simple systems are lifesavers when inclement weather hits like extreme cold or severe winds. You also might find it handy to purchase a system that has an independent cable that's pre-cut and looped at the factory, so there's no guesswork for you in the field, and where you don't need special tools for installing or removing your canopy.

At some companies, in-house engineering staff can design customer-specific shade systems using the latest state-of-the-art computer automation. The industry has evolved to offer many shapes: They come in square, rectangular, hexagon, octagon and cantilevered styles, with some engineered to withstand high winds up to 150 miles per hour on the frame and 90 miles per hour with canopy attached.

Be sure to look into the warranties on the system you choose. Some are more extensive than others. Local representatives should be able to provide technical data, including drawings and samples, price quotes, site planning assistance and a complete turnkey installation.

Shade Systems Inc.: