Welcome to Australian Shade News
Spring / Summer 2018
Shade sails are an everyday part of Australian outdoor living. The great outdoors has never been easier to enjoy or safer than with that great Aussie icon, the Australian shade sail. Australian lifestyles are enhanced by beautiful, practical, high-quality shade sails.
Australian Shade News is your authoritative product and consumer guide, designed to keep you up-to-date with all the latest shade sail news and issues.
Australian Shade News is Australia’s only publication dedicated to all things shade sail. This new biannual e-newsletter is for you if you are;
- A shade sail owner
- A shade sail user
- Considering the benefits of shade sails for your business, organisation or home.
We hope you enjoy this issue and invite you to contact us with your questions, feedback and suggestions for future issues.
In this issue
- Legislation update: Requirements for the early childhood education and care sector
- Technology update: Hardware innovations
- Are you shade compliant?
- Shade sail grants! Are you eligible? ASN offers an expert grant-writing service
- Science corner: The ozone layer and you
- Blue eye blues: Beware the coming cataract epidemic
- Perils and pitfalls: Five shade installation mistakes and how to avoid them
National requirements for the early childhood education and care sector
Shade is a public health issue, with special relevance for children and young people. Australian Shade News takes you through the national requirements mandated by the government for the care and protection of our youngest people when it comes to the dangers of overexposure to the sun.
Kids and UV
Children and young people are very susceptible to UV damage to their skin and eyes. The risk of melanoma in later life is more than doubled by receiving five or more cases of severe sunburn early in life. The risk of cataracts in middle age is heightened by early exposure to high levels of UV radiation.
As the UV index is typically high even in winter in Queensland and elsewhere in Australia, year-round protection from the sun’s harmful rays is required for safety and compliance.
National standards for those working with children and young people
The early childhood and education and care sector is required to adhere to three National Quality Standards for sun-safe procedures and practices.
These three documents set out requirements that apply to virtually all long day care, preschool, kindergarten, family day care and outside school hours care services across Australia, from Queensland to Tasmania to Western Australia to the Northern Territory and all points between;
- National Quality Framework (NQF)
- Education and Care Services National Law (‘National Law’)
- Education and Care Services National Regulations (‘National Regulations’)
(The states and territories also have provisions relating to shade that apply in their jurisdictions. Check with your state health department for what regulations, laws and standards apply in your state.)
Shade sails: National requirements at a glance
Regulation 114 requires shade to be provided for outdoor play areas to protect children from over-exposure to UV rays from the sun.
This applies no matter where you are located in Australia. Shaded areas must meet the recommendations of relevant recognised authorities for protection from the sun. Childhood services are assessed for compliance against the National Quality Standard.
Shade sails are an important part of your organisation’s strategy for a comprehensive sun safety policy. Play safe. Ensure your sun-safety compliance with quality shade sails. Don’t take risks with the present and future health and wellbeing of the children in your care.
In this regular column for our ever-evolving industry, we talk about the latest in optimising shade installations through innovations in hardware, fabrication techniques and more.
This issue we explore disc corners, pull close corners and keder tracks. These shade sail hardware pieces are each designed to increase your shade, reduce water penetration (especially down the sides of walls) and to increase the stability of your sail.
Corner products like disc corners and pull close corners will give you wider corners on sails. This works to close gaps in your shade area. They will also give you greater stability through less lateral movement. Less lateral movement in winds means less strain on your fabric and stitching and therefore a longer life for your shade sail.
Enabling wider corners is also a big plus for your area of shade. Shade sails tend to have slender, tapering corners. Depending on the shape and dimensions of your sail these can have quite a narrow angle. The corners are also separated from the anchor point by the length of the turnbuckle. This leaves a gap for light and rain to penetrate your sheltered area. A disc corner can substantially widen your corners thus increasing your area of shade. Pull close corners do as their name suggests, and reduce the gap between the corner of your sail and the anchor point. This way they also reduce sunlight penetrating your carefully designed area of shade.
Disc corners and pull close corners are sewn into your sail at the order stage. They make five anchor-point sails better value for money through potentially increasing the longevity of your sail and increasing the area of shade it provides.
Keder tracks are another product that is sewn into your sail at the order stage. These are suitable for sails that are to be attached to structures with a stable straight length along one side, such as many roofs and carports and some retaining walls and other vertical boundaries. The straight edge of the shade sail has the keder track sewn into it, which can then run through a shade sail track that is installed along the roof or sail edge line.
Keder tracks and shade sail tracks represent an alternative to fixing one, two or three anchor points to that straight side of the sail on the roof or other surface. Keder tracks offer similar advantages to corner products for sail structures of this type — namely, they close a gap through which sunlight and rain might otherwise penetrate, and they also promote stability and reduce lateral movement.
You are welcome to contact us to discuss the suitability of these innovative products for your shade sail structure.
A checklist for schools and early childhood education and care service centres
Shade for areas used by children should be well-designed and effective. Shade sails can be an important part of a general sun-safe strategy. Shaded areas can not only greatly reduce the harmful effects of UV radiation on tender young skin and eyes, they can help modulate temperatures.
Shade sails provide an effective, flexible, aesthetic and cost-efficient part of your shade strategy that can also include well-placed trees and tall shrubs.
When planning your shade strategy, you should consider;
- Implementing a comprehensive sun protection and shade policy
- Adopting a no-hat no-play rule as part of your policy
- Involving the whole school/centre community to gain their support for your policy
- Where the shade is placed and whether you need to consult other users of that space
- Positioning play equipment to take advantage of the shade
- The impact of levels of natural light on nearby classrooms, noise levels, grass that is now in shade, rainwater collection and changes to pedestrian traffic
- The relative merits of natural versus built shade and the suitability of shade sails
- Applying for a shade sail grant (see our story on shade sail grants below for more information about the grants and our grant-writing service).
Queensland schools and early childhood centres are all strongly encouraged by their respective regulating bodies to provide shade. That’s because health and education authorities recognise the importance of protecting children and young people from the sun’s harmful rays. Choosing a shade sail structure has never been wiser. Make it a vital part of your comprehensive sun-safe policy.
More information is available at these sites;
- For early childhood education and care centres
- For state schools
- For independent schools
- For Catholic schools
Sun protection remains the best form of defence against skin cancers and deadly melanomas. Shade sails are a practical, user-friendly form of sun protection for children, young people and their carers.
Research shows that if shade is available, people will use it!
Now is the time to invest in a quality shade sail structure
Did you know that Queensland not-for-profits that cater for children and young people aged 0 to 18 years can now apply for government grants for portable or permanent shade sail structures?
Applications for grants open in October and run for only a short time. Be ready: engage Australian Shade News’ expert grant-writing service. Please see the details in the “Are you eligible?’ box below.
The SunSmart Shade Creation Initiative: Matched funding for shade sails
The SunSmart Shade Creation Initiative was jointly launched by the Queensland Government and Cancer Council Queensland. The initiative provides up to 50% matched funding to successful applicants for the purchase of a shade sail – up to $2000 for portable shade and $5000 for permanent shade structures.
Launching the initiative, Steven Miles (left), the Minister for Health and Ambulance Services, said that the SunSmart Shade Creation Initiative would benefit organisations and schools across the state.
“The Palaszczuk Government has provided $870,000 of funding over three years to support schools, junior sporting and community clubs and childcare centres to adopt sun-safe policies and practices,” Minister Miles said.
“Skin damage can occur in as little as 10 minutes if you’re outdoors without protection, and exposure to ultraviolet radiation in childhood leads to an increased risk of skin cancer later in life.”
“With Queensland having the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, it’s vital young Queenslanders are taught SunSmart habits from a young age.”
Cancer Council Queensland CEO, Ms Chris McMillan, urges eligible schools, sporting clubs, childcare centres and community groups to apply.
“Adequate sun protection is critical from an early age, so we are proud to partner with the Queensland Government to help provide shade and protect Queensland kids from the sun,” Ms McMillan said.
“Sun protection remains the best defence against skin cancer and is required when the UV Index is three and above, which is all year round in Queensland.”
Are you eligible?
ASN offers expert grant-writing services!
Australian Shade News is proud to offer an expert grant writing service for applicants for shade sail structures under the Queensland SunSmart Shade Creation Initiative. For a value-for-money fee based on the requirements for the grant application, we will maximise your chances of winning one of these valuable cash grants worth between $2000 and $5000.
In 2017, 88 Queensland schools, sporting and community clubs and childcare centres benefited from new shade structures under this exciting and important initiative.
Contact us today for information about how we can determine your eligibility for this grant. Once your eligibility has been established, we can then boost your organisation’s chance of success in winning a 2019 grant through our expert grant-writing service.
Hurry! Applications close soon
Applications for 2019 grants open on 1 October 2018 and close 1 November 2018. If your application is successful, you will be notified early in 2019, with all projects completed by September 2019. Contact us today to be sure you and your organisation don’t miss out on this exciting opportunity.
Not in Queensland?
Australian Shade News also offers our expert grant writing service for similar initiatives in other states.
Contact us today for information about grants in your state, and we will do the rest.
Read more about the Queensland SunSmart Shade Creation Initiative here:
You have probably heard of the ozone layer. But did you know that it protects us from harmful UV radiation? Here is what you need to know about ozone and protecting yourself with shade right now and into the future.
What is ozone and the ozone layer?
Ozone is a colourless gas that forms from oxygen. It is toxic to humans if you breathe it in as air pollution. However, it also forms a layer about 20 to 30 km above the Earth’s surface, where it plays a vital role in protecting humans, animals and plants from harmful UV radiation. Ninety percent of all Earth’s ozone is found in this ozone layer in the stratosphere.
You might have also heard about the hole in the ozone layer. This has been caused by the human use of chemicals such as CFCs in refrigerators or as propellants in products like hairspray. The vast hole of ozone-depleted air sits over the Antarctic area. It changes size according to seasonal effects, and is at its biggest in the southern late winter and spring months.
What is the harm from ozone-depleted air?
Because it absorbs UV radiation, the ozone layer protects us from the sun’s harmful rays. With ozone-depleted air, we are at much higher risk of suffering the following biological damage;
- various types of skin cancer
- damage to materials (rubbers, some plastics)
- harm to other animals and plants
- harm to marine life – UV penetrates tens of metres below the surface of the ocean.
Closing the ozone layer: And what you need to know to be UV-safe
Ozone depletion is not just confined to the Arctic region. It also sits at times over places like southern Chile and the south island of New Zealand, where it is possible for a fair-skinned person to burn in 15 minutes in 8℃ weather.
Following the Montreal Protocol, which 22 countries including the European Economic Community ratified in 1989, a goal was set to eliminate ozone-depleting substances. CFCs and other ozone-depleting chemicals will be phased out by 2030 in developed countries, and by 2040 in developing countries. This means that the ozone hole will close, but only very slowly over a period of many decades – and it will get bigger before it gets better. At present, it is expected that the ozone layer may recover to pre-1980 levels by 2080. That means your grandchildren may see the ozone hole close over and recover. But what about in the meantime?
The ozone layer over Australia in coming decades
In the coming decades, the hole in the ozone layer will get bigger and move up from the Antarctic region to the mid-latitudes. This means that filaments of ozone-depleted air will move over Tasmania, New Zealand and the southern parts of mainland Australia. The public health consequences of this will be serious. It has been estimated that a 10% reduction in the ozone layer will result in a 25% increase in non-melanoma skin cancers by 2050.
So it has never been more important to protect yourself and others from exposure to UV radiation, now and for the future. Remember the sun protection mantra and teach it to young people:
Shade sails come in a range of UV protection factors.
Shade sails are a product and a strategy for today and tomorrow. Protect the future health of young people by offering shelter from UV radiation today.
Why are we talking about ozone depletion? And why is the government subsidising sail shades? Well, these days, just about everyone knows about the risks of skin cancer from UV radiation.
But not everyone is yet aware that increased exposure to UV radiation from ozone depletion is expected to increase the incidence of cataracts, a form of eye damage that can cause blindness.
Here is a sobering statistic: a 1% decrease in stratospheric ozone may result in 100,000 to 150,000 additional cases of blindness due to eye cataracts world-wide. This news gets worse when we consider that ozone is expected to deplete much more than that in many populated parts of the world. And most at risk are those living in these areas exposed to ozone depletion in the coming decades – which means many Australians. People with blue or green eyes are also more likely to suffer from cataracts. Again, that means many Australians are among those at risk of developing this preventable form of blindness.
So, what are cataracts exactly?
Cataracts are a clouding of the normally clear lens of the eye, which lies behind the coloured iris and the pupil. Cataracts are the most common cause of vision loss in older people and sometimes in people under 40, too, BUT they are caused by progressive damage. This means it is vital to protect the eyes of children and young people.
Cataracts are caused by UV radiation reaching the back of the eye, where it causes cells in the retina to slowly deteriorate. Near vision will be affected first, and blindness can gradually occur unless the eye is operated on. Radiation is partly absorbed in the lens of an adult eye but will go right through the lens of a child, reaching the back of the eye. This is why we recommend that children’s eyes, in particular, be protected from strong sunlight.
Ozone depletion in coming decades and cataracts
With the thinning of the ozone layer over much of Australia in coming decades will come increased levels of UV-B radiation near the Earth’s surface where we live. Cataracts and the blindness they cause are the most common eye disease that will result from this ozone layer depletion.
The skin can adapt to some extent to UV radiation by becoming browner and thicker (NOT that tanning is recommended — there is no safe level of sun exposure to the skin), but the eye does not have any such defences. In fact, our eyes become more sensitive with increased exposure to radiation. UV-B radiation, which the ozone layer protects us from, can permanently damage the cornea, the lens and the retina.
Other common eye diseases associated with increased UV-B radiation are eye cancer, conjunctivitis and pterygium, a thickening of the tissue covering the eyeball.
What to do
Seek shade and wear a hat and sunglasses. Shade sails can help provide an important source of relief from the effects of UV-B radiation. The risks start early in life, and levels of UV-B radiation are expected to increase in coming decades. Teach children now to:
Shade sails come in a range of UV protection factors.
Shade sails are a product and a strategy for today and tomorrow. Protect the future health of young people by offering shelter from UV radiation today.
So, you’ve decided to protect yourself and other people with a shade sail. Congratulations on your decision. But there is a welter of information out there about shade sails. How do you cut through it to make the best decisions about your purchase?
Australian Shade News is here to help demystify the process of choosing and installing a shade sail. We discuss what to avoid when seeking quotes and accepting a shade sail installation, and what to be sure to ask for and make sure you get.
This is your VITAL checklist when considering a new shade sail.
1. Thread: PTFE vs commercial poly thread
PTFE – that’s polytetrafluoroethylene – thread is simply the superior choice. Don’t make the mistake of spending on the best quality fabric, only to undermine your choice with an inferior thread.
Most shade sail suppliers use a commercial standard poly thread, but if you want long life from your shade sail, insist on SolarFix PTFE, or change to a supplier who does offer it. SolarFix PTFE is known as “lifetime thread” in the trade. It has exceptional resistance to UV radiation and chemical wear such as chlorine. We recommend the sturdy 210 denier filament size. You should also ensure that your sail has two rows of zigzag stitching in all seams.
Stitching can be the weakest link in the longevity of a shade sail, so it is most important that you choose this high-tenacity thread which has been specially designed for the harshest Australian outdoor conditions.
2. Bare minimum structure vs Improved structure: Why 4-point shade sails are nearly a thing of the past
Five-point shade sails are extremely stable. Don’t be talked into a four-point bare minimum structure – it’s a false economy likely to cause you grief down the track. The addition of an extra fixing point to even a smaller sized and squarish-shaped shade area pays off for stability and longevity — and ultimately for your hip pocket and peace of mind.
Five-point shade sail structures are so stable they can support even very large sails of over 12 metres each side. Plus, if you install fixing posts of varying heights the fabric top will reward you with innovative and attractive shapes that will provide plenty of shade and shelter.
3. Roof mounts vs stand-alone vs fascia: Avoid unnecessary gaps in your shade sail or between the structure and the shade sail
Properly installed stand-alone posts will give you the most secure mounting points. But sometimes your priorities will be not just stability, but closing gaps where sun and rain can penetrate. In such cases, you will mount one side of your shade sail to an existing roof or wall. For such structures, we strongly recommend professional installation to ensure, first of all, that no damage is done to the roof or wall, and secondly, that you maximise the coverage of your shade sail.
Roof mounts such as keder tracks as discussed above make an excellent choice in many instances and will fill any gaps between your shade structure and its support. We recommend these over the use of fascias, which are not specifically designed for load-bearing. In order to mount a tension point, you will need to add a structure to the fascia board, and this might involve removing roof tiles. Seek expert advice rather than DIYing for all these options.
4. Is your shade getting a fat belly? Keep your sail as lean and trim as yourself!
Tension your sail! If your shade sail shows signs of drooping, call for expert help as soon as possible to re-tension it safely. A belly-like drooping of the sail is going to cost you money if it is not attended to.
Wear and tear on the fabric and stitching will increase as your sail will move more in the breeze. A drooping sail is also more likely to collect water and debris, which may lead to issues such as mould and mildew. If in doubt, consult a shade sail professional.
5. Better design equals less movement: Moving parts equals more wear and tear
As we’ve just discussed, the more movement in your shade sail, the more it will suffer wear and tear, shortening its lifespan and lessening its value for money. You can lengthen the life of your sail by keeping it correctly tensioned – and possibly even more importantly, you can ensure that it is well-designed and well-manufactured in the first place.
For longevity and value, look for;
- A minimum of five anchor points, or three plus a keder track
- Well-installed stand-alone fixing points
- A double zigzag row of PTFE-thread stitching
- Taut tensioning that is evenly distributed across the area of the sail.