Canada’s first casualty in Hurricane Sandy was a pedestrian in west Toronto.  An unnamed woman was killed when a backlit billboard-sized sign detached from its 30-foot-high mooring and fell on top of her.

Billboard SignageThe scary thing about this tragedy is that it was unforeseeable.  The winds that blew the sign off were gusting at over 65 km/h.  This was a higher speed than meteorologists predicted for Toronto.  It was higher than the wind speeds of almost any storm that has hit Toronto in recorded history.

We now know that storms like Sandy can happen in Toronto.  There is no longer any excuse for falling signs.  Here are some ways to protect yourself and the public.

If Possible, Choose Safer Locations for your Signs

If at all possible, fix your signs directly to your building.  If that isn’t possible, mount them on two or more posts.  This goes a long way to prevent the twisting stresses that probably brought down the Staples sign.  Our team can plan signage mounting locations that are both attractive and safe.

Buy High Quality Signage and Update it often

A good billboard or sign should be designed to hold up to very high wind speeds.  However, signs will lose integrity over the years.  Bolts get loosened or corroded, metal plates warp, and plastic gets brittle.  If your sign is well above the ground and/or near roads or sidewalks, you should have it inspected by a contractor or sign installer at least once a year.  The best time to have it inspected is in the spring, after the harsh winter elements have taken their toll.

You can also consider changing your sign regularly.  This is even safer than annual inspections because even components with invisible wear and tear will be replaced.  Replacing a sign also gives you an opportunity to update your company’s image.

Use a Sign Securing System

There are a lot of sign mounting systems that will let you detach, retract, fold up or otherwise secure your sign during bad weather conditions.  Your HTT Signs team can help which of these systems would work best for your business.  If your sign is backlit, we can offer annual takedown services.  If your sign is not, we can work out easy manual systems to secure it on a moment’s notice.

Whichever system you choose, you will be able to secure your sign not just during freak storms like sandy, but also during inclement weather of any kind.  This will help protect both passers-by and the sign itself.

Have an Emergency Plan

If your sign comes down during a storm, it creates a continuing hazard as parts of it may blow into people, buildings, or vehicles.  Your employees should call the city as soon as they notice a potentially dangerous downed sign.  Your employees should also be ready to advise customers to stay at least 100 feet away from the downed sign at all times and to make sure they are not standing down wind.  Make sure it will be possible for employees and customers to leave your business without going near a downed sign.

Be safe, be smart, get inspections, get replacements, and get high-quality, well-secured signs.

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