While we might love snowmen, skiing, and hot chocolate, the reality is that winter is harsh. While flagpoles are designed to withstand a huge range of weather conditions, the reality is that winter can significantly wear down your flagpole. Flagpole care is important to take into consideration before the weather starts to turn.
And in much the same way you would put on a hat and gloves before stepping out into the weather, preparation is the best countermeasure when the weather outside is frightful.
Here’s a closer look at how to prepare your flags and flagpoles for winter and care for them as the winter months wear on.
Understand the Worst Flagpole Care Weather Conditions
When you’re trying to prepare your flagpoles and flags for when the weather outside is frightful, the best first step is to understand what type of weather that’s going to be.
In our lovely state of Idaho, for example, we know winter. There’s cold, and then there’s cold. We would know– in some parts of our great state, there is an average of 292 days per year below freezing with record lows of -54 degrees Fahrenheit. We love it here, but it does get cold.
That said, the cold shouldn’t be your biggest flagpole concern. Here’s a look at various common weather conditions that occur in the wintertime and how they can affect your flags and flagpole care.
Nothing quite adds to the ambiance of a cold winter day like howling wind. The only problem is that your flagpole may not be quite so happy about this situation. After all, you can curl up in front of your warm, crackling fire–your flagpole is stuck in the cold.
The wind is one of the weather conditions that can put a lot of stress on your flagpole in a short period. And while your flagpole is designed to withstand a certain amount of wind, winter storm winds can be serious.
Flagpoles Wind Speed Ratings
This is why it’s important to understand wind speed ratings for both the area you live and the maximum your flagpole is built to withstand.
Wind speed is rated according to the Beaufort Scale, named for a British admiral named Sir Francis Beaufort. It rates wind speed by thirteen categories, ranked in order from less than 1 mph to more than 75 mph:
- 0: calm
- 1: light air
- 2: light breeze
- 3: gentle breeze
- 4: moderate breeze
- 5: fresh breeze
- 6: strong breeze
- 7: moderate gale or near gale
- 8: fresh gale or simply gale
- 9: strong gale or severe gale
- 10: whole gale or storm
- 11: storm or a violent storm
- 12: hurricane
The nice thing about this scale is that it matches wind speed with observable phenomena, which means you don’t need to worry about having any kind of fancy equipment to roughly estimate the strength of the wind.
For example, at a wind speed rating of 0, smoke rises vertically with little if any drift. At a wind speed rating of 1, which is between 1 to 3 mph, the direction of the wind is shown by smoke drifts but not wind vanes, and your flag moves very little (if at all). At a rating of 2, between 4 to 7 mph, you feel the wind on your face, leaves rustle and twigs move.
Need an easy reference? Print out this reference and hang it on the fridge. It offers easy classification guidelines that you can see and feel to estimate the wind speed.
Why Wind Speed is Important
While you don’t need an exact wind speed reading accurate down to the mile, you do need a rough estimate of the wind speed outside your door.
Every flagpole is built to withstand a specific wind load. Once you’ve determined the height of the flagpole you want, choosing the right flagpole is a matter of figuring out the wind loads to which the flagpole will be subjected. The Titan Telescoping flagpole can withstand anywhere between 75 and 95 mph winds! That’s a strong flagpole!
Choosing the right flagpole requires knowing the wind loads of your specific region, which can be seen on a wind speed map. Inherently, weather can be unpredictable, and purchasing a flagpole with high wind speed ratings is key!
If you already proudly own a flagpole and practice good flagpole care, you’re most likely already familiar with this. But it’s important to remember that wind considerations don’t end when you select your flagpole. If the wind load gets too high for your flagpole, you may need to take preventative measures.
Damage can happen to both your flag(s) and flagpole.
How Wind Affects a Flag
Eight to eleven miles per hour is the ideal wind speed range for a flag to unfurl completely in the way we envision a flag flying proudly. That said, exposure to wind and the elements can wear out your flag over time.
Making sure your flag(s) aren’t rubbing against anything when the move in the wind is crucial to the flag’s longevity. Ensuring that you are far enough away from any obstacles for both the flag and flagpole during installation will help prevent premature wear and tear.
A telescoping flagpole is easy to bring down if you are worried the flag is going to be ruined by an upcoming wind storm.
How Wind Affects Flagpoles
As a general rule, the higher the wind load, the higher the stress on your flagpole, especially if you have a larger flag. Basically, if the flag is larger and the wind speed is high, your flagpole has to work harder to resist the wind, and if it’s not built to handle that much pressure, you could face a flagpole failure.
Making sure that your flagpole can withstand common wind speeds in your area with the size of the flag you’ve chosen is important when buying. If you want your flagpole to have a long life, research and preparation are key, especially in the winter months. Be conservative with your estimates, as you’ll have to account for other conditions putting stress on your flagpole like precipitation and freezing temperatures.
if it feels windy on the ground where you’re relatively shielded, it’s going to be much worse at the top of a flagpole.
Cold and Inclement Weather
Like we said earlier: in Idaho, we know cold. There’s cold and then there’s cold. As in, there’s the kind of cold you make a snowman in, the kind of cold you go skiing in, and the kind of cold where you curl up indoors in your warmest clothes by the fire and don’t leave.
Unfortunately, the cold can be unpleasant for your flag and flagpole too.
Winter precipitation can take its toll on your outdoor belongings as well. Whether it’s snow, hail, ice, freezing rain, or any combination thereof, it can all do major damage to your flags and flagpoles. The precipitation during the winter months is important to consider when deciding how you’ll go about flagpole care and usage.
How Cold and Inclement Weather Affect a Flag
Bad weather can gradually cause your flag to wear out and fade. Like most other fabrics in our lives, the flag will fade over time. Protecting it from elements can help preserve those bright red, white, and blue colors.
The changes in temperature can cause your wet flag to freeze which can prolong the fabric’s exposure of being wet. This in turn can cause the colors to bleed and fade over time.
How Cold and Inclement Weather Affect Flagpoles
So how does winter precipitation affect your flagpole?
Precipitation seeping into a flag will make the flag heavier, which increases the amount of stress on your flagpole. This mixed with the cold temperatures can cause your flagpole to contract. This is similar to what most objects do in different temperatures, cold causes contraction while heat causes the metal to expand. The wrong flagpole will become brittle over time and the coloring can chip off.
Knowing how and when you need to make flagpole care a priority in the winter will help your flagpole continue to fly a flag proudly for many years to come.
Start Flagpole Care Early
So, what does all of this mean for your winter preparedness?
The short answer: it pays to be prepared.
The slightly longer answer: the more prepared you are, the better off your flag(s), and flagpole will be in the long-run. Like anything that spends a lot of time outside, If you treat your flag and flagpole well in the winter, they’ll stay beautiful for years to come.
Here are three tips that will help you assess the situation and prepare for the colder months, keeping your flag and flagpole looking good and flying proudly even when the weather gets frigid.
Check the Condition of Your Flag and Flagpole
The best place to start is simple: check the condition of your flag and flagpole. If they’re struggling to go into the winter months, they’ll look even worse if you don’t take care of them during the winter.
Check your flag and flagpole early in the fall as the weather starts to cool down and check them again throughout the fall and into the winter. You should also check on them periodically during the winter, especially after a bad winter storm.
Look for any signs of wear and tear that might get worse as the season progresses. Pay extra attention to:
- Plastic Ground Sleeve
- Flagpole finish
- Flag itself
If any of these parts look worn down, scuffed, or cracked don’t be afraid to replace them. In fact, you should replace them as soon as you can. Although it’s unlikely to experience these issues with a Titan Telescoping Flagpole, it’s nice to know that the pole is warrantied and any replacement parts are under that warranty!
Flagpole Care When the Weather Outside is Frightful
Preparation is just one stage of the game. When the winter finally comes, you’ll need to give your flags and flagpoles some TLC.
Remember: you’re making an investment in the longevity of your flagpole and ensuring you’ll still be able to fly your flags proudly no matter the season.
Here’s a closer look at how to do your flags and flagpoles a favor when the winter months come knocking.
In some sense, flags are much easier to care for than a flagpole. They’re smaller, lighter, cheaper, and easier to transport.
That said, don’t neglect your flag in favor of devoting all your attention to your flagpole. Your flag can significantly impact the performance of your flagpole if you don’t take care of it. Essentially, think of your flag as an added source of stress in the winter.
Besides, if you’re flying your flag, you’ll want to fly it proudly! And that means keeping your flag looking sharp for the whole year. Here are a few tips to help you do just that.
Fly the Right Size
If you already own a flagpole, you probably already know your way around flag sizing. Which means you’re probably familiar with the conventional wisdom: the flag should be about one-quarter of the height of the pole.
We’ve noted several times that your flag is a source of stress on your flagpole in winter weather conditions. If you’re worried about your flagpole being able to withstand the weather but still want to fly your flag proudly, fly a flag that’s the proper size for your flagpole.
The greater the surface area of your flag, the greater the wind resistance, which means more stress on your flagpole.
On a related note, if your flag is looking worse for the wear, it might be time to replace it anyway.
If your flag is torn, worn, or frayed, this damage will only worsen when exposed to the winter elements. You can replace your flag or take it to a seamstress, but either way now is the time to treat your flag with love.
Even if you have a sturdy flag, get it repaired or replaced if it’s looking shabby around the edges. Winter will only exacerbate this damage.
Don’t Fly at All
Of course, the safest option is simply not to fly your flag at all.
This doesn’t mean that you need to keep your flag indoors all winter. You can certainly fly your flag in milder winter conditions. However, if you’re expecting moderate or severe winter weather conditions, you can take your flag indoors.
Remember, your flag adds stress to your flagpole when the weather takes a nasty turn. Taking your flag indoors may be the best possible outcome to ensure your flagpole stays in decent shape through a winter storm.
Flagpole Care Basics
This brings us to the question of flagpoles.
Fortunately, a telescoping flagpole can be taken indoors with the same level of ease as a flag, making them much easier to care for than a pole that is permanently secured to the ground. Like with most things you own outside if you suspect an intense winter storm coming your way, move your flagpole to a safe place!
We also have some tips on how to keep your flagpole strong and beautiful all through the winter. Our goal is to make sure you have the tools to take care of your pole so it looks great for many years to come!
Check the Parts
One of the best things you can do for your flagpole is to keep checking in on the condition of its parts. That means every component should be checked periodically and assessed for soundness.
While a bit of wear or rust might not be such a big deal in the summer, it can be a big deal in the winter– as water usually makes rusting worse.
If you intend to fly your flag for much of the winter, make sure to periodically check the weather and perform a systemic check of the flagpole parts, especially in the immediate aftermath of a winter storm.
If the parts are worn, you can bet the flag will be torn.
Telescoping Flagpoles are Best for Easy Flagpole Care
The best flagpole out there is a flagpole that you can easily put up and bring down as you wish. The telescoping Flagpole design makes this possible with ease! No more dealing with scary swaying poles or tangled ropes and pulleys. Not only does the telescoping pole save you money by having fewer parts to maintain, but they are also easy to use and just as if not more beautiful than any traditional style flagpole.
To fly the flag with a telescoping flagpole you simply lift and lock each section of the flagpole up until it’s fully extended. When a harsh winter storm comes rolling through you can bring it down and store it in the garage with no damage. No ropes, no swaying, just safety.
Don’t Neglect the Flagpoles Finial
Another area that’s easy to neglect is the finial for your flagpole or the decorative ball that screws into the top.
It’s easy to take this little part for granted, especially since it’s at the top of the pole and you tend not to handle it that much. But this part not only impacts the look of your flagpole, but it also impacts the functionality.
Before winter comes check the state of your flagpole’s finial. Make sure it’s screwed correctly and doesn’t have any existing damage. If you have a solar light screwed to the top as well, check that to make sure the solar panels are working properly and there’s no damage there too. If you notice an issue, fix it as soon as you can–wear and tear will just get worse through the winter.
Have Questions about Flag and Flagpole Care in the Winter?
We know that getting your flagpoles ready for the winter elements is an undertaking. And the sad truth is that not all flagpoles are designed to adequately withstand severe weather conditions.
That’s why we’re here to provide you with flagpoles that look good and stay strong no matter how harsh the elements become. Click here to check out our selection of Titan flag products, and get in touch today if you have questions about prepping your flagpole for the winter.