Feather Flags – Understanding wind speeds

As a keen enthusiast in the 1980s I took the responsibility for organising the York Kite Festival over three years. The greatest difficulty then, was raising the finance, but once the event became established, sponsors became easier to find. These events were generally well attended, with an average of 5,000 plus visitors over the weekend.

While most of the participants were aware of the safety issues, others were not so, and some serious problems did occur. But the requirement that we plan, forecast and identify those safety risks beforehand was never imposed by our insurance provider.

Risk assessment and management has now become so paramount, even when presenting small events that only the hardy, experienced and well financed ever venture along this route – and the event they so wished for, never takes place.

The consequence of all these safety requirements, as a company we are regularly asked to advise of the safety risks of using our feather flags. The list of does and dont’s is growing but the most common question concerns windspeed – what is the maximum wind speed they can be used ?

Most manufacturers will recommend a maximum windspeed for feather flag poles to be used safely is Force 4-5  =  18-25 mph, when secured by a spike.  This should be made known to your insurance provider, and your risk assessment based on these figures.  Some aluminium and high carbon poles are designed to accommodate higher wind speeds, but these are not usually offered  to the wider market, and only available from specialist suppliers.

When using any kind of base, these maximum winds speeds no longer apply, and are much lower depending on the type of base, its weight and footprint.


What signs to look for ?

Wind Force Beaufort Scale Wind Speed MPH Signs to look for Level of Comfort
0 Calm 0-1 Smoke Rises No Wind
1 Light air 2-3 Flags start to ripple. Little Wind
2 Light Breeze 4-7 Flags begin to stiffen and wave Feel the wind on your body
3 Gentle Breeze 8-12 Leaves rustle, top branches sway. Flags flutter Wind Comfortable
4 Moderate Breeze 13-18 Small trees sway: Flags flap vigorously Uncomfortable in the wind
5 Fresh Breeze 19-24 Flag poles tilt. Litter blown along ground Walking into wind difficult.
6 Strong Breeze 25-31 Flags noisy, poles rattle & bend, ground spikes loosen. Walking impossible. Shelter essential

The basic rule of thumb – if the poles are bending to a 75 degree angle;  the ground spike is becoming insecure, or  the offset side of the base is lifting high off the ground – then it is time to remove the flags from the pole.


About skynasoars

Jim Rowlands ; MD Skynasoars Ltd. Offering creative branding for outdoor events -corportate entertainments and festivals, in the form of feather banners, tear drop flags, pop up signs and windsocks. Based in Scunthorpe UK
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