Are you really using your umbrella correctly?
How to Use an Umbrella Correctly
An umbrella is a simple yet useful tool that most of us use on rainy days to stay dry. While using an umbrella seems straightforward, there are some tips and tricks to using it properly for maximum rain protection and avoiding common mishaps. In this article, we’ll go over the basics of choosing, using, and maintaining an umbrella so you can handle wet weather like a pro.
Choosing the Right Umbrella
Not all umbrellas are created equal when it comes to keeping you dry on a rainy day. Here are some things to look for when selecting an umbrella:
- Size – Choose an umbrella that is big enough to cover your head and shoulders but not so huge that it’s unwieldy in the wind. Look for compact travel umbrellas or full-size umbrellas around 46-48 inches for optimal coverage.
- Canopy Shape – A rounded canopy allows rain to roll off while a flat one can catch water. Look for a gently rounded canopy.
- Sturdy Construction – Make sure the umbrella feels sturdy and durable when opened rather than flimsy. Look for strong, steel shafts and ribs.
- Water-repellent Fabric – Umbrella fabric should cause water to bead up and run off rather than soak through. Nylon and pongee are good water-repellent fabrics.
- Automatic Open/Close Button – For easy one-handed operation, choose an umbrella with an automatic open/close button.
Follow these tips for smooth sailing with your umbrella when rain strikes:
- Open your umbrella before stepping outside into the rain. Trying to open it after you’re already getting wet defeats the purpose!
- Angle the umbrella slightly forward so rain falls in front of you rather than dripping down the backside. Tilting it too far forward though can allow rain to blow underneath.
- Hold the umbrella handle firmly and angled downwards. This prevents the wind from catching the underside and flipping it inside out.
- Use your free hand to hold the canopy steady in heavy wind. Prevent it from blowing backwards and allowing rain in.
- Close the umbrella and give it a good shake before bringing it inside to minimize drips and pooling water.
- Leave a wet umbrella in a stand or bucket by the door rather than closing it up, which can trap moisture inside.
- Don’t let the tips of the umbrella ribs rest in the stand when wet, as moisture can corrode the metal over time.
With periodic care and maintenance, your umbrella can last you through years of rainfall:
- Allow your umbrella to fully air dry before closing and storing it to prevent mold and mildew.
- Wipe metal parts dry after use to minimize corrosion.
- Apply a thin coat of corrosion inhibitor, like wax, to metal parts 1-2 times per year.
- Re-apply waterproofing spray 2-3 times per year to boost the umbrella’s water repellency.
- Fasten any loose screws or connections with a screwdriver to reinforce the frame.
- Mend small tears in the fabric by applying clear nail polish to the edges of the tear.
- Replace broken or severely bent ribs or shafts. Most umbrella manufacturers sell replacement parts on their websites.
- Consider replacing your umbrella every 1-2 years with heavy use.
Troubleshooting Common Umbrella Problems
No umbrella is immune to the occasional mishap. But don’t let it ruin your day! Here are some common umbrella issues and how to address them:
Problem: Umbrella won’t open
Problem-Solving: Try pressing the automatic open button several times. If that doesn’t work, the spring mechanism may be jammed. Carefully flex the metal ribs back and forth to loosen any stuck parts.
Problem: Umbrella blows inside out in wind
Problem-Solving: Turn your back to the wind so it doesn’t catch the underside of the canopy. Reposition at an angle to prevent wind funneling underneath. If very windy, opt for a rain jacket with hood instead.
Problem: Umbrella fabric leaks or soaks through
Problem-Solving: Apply waterproofing spray and allow it to fully saturate the fabric. If leaking persists, the fabric coating has worn off and the umbrella should be replaced.
Problem: Ribs are bent or broken
Problem-Solving: Carefully bend back into shape any lightly bent ribs using pliers and a small hammer. Replace severely bent or broken parts.
By choosing the right umbrella, using proper technique, and performing periodic care, you can master the art of staying dry in the rain. A bit of preventative maintenance goes a long way in enhancing your umbrella’s lifespan and performance. With these tips, you’ll be rain ready when showers come your way.