Avoiding sun exposure — a requirement with certain prescriptions — presents a problem sometimes. Since I normally burn in 15-20 minutes and am afraid to find out what a medicine that makes me more photosensitive would do, I usually use lots of sunscreen and stay out of the sun. Sunscreen use is important, but not a cure-all for photosensitivity. When outdoors, it’s important to find (or create) shade.
This past spring and summer I found avoiding the sun especially challenging since my boys played baseball. Outdoors. Every. Day. High school baseball began in March and ran through mid-May, while community league for my younger son began in April with games in May and June, followed by five weeks of all-stars tournaments, culminating in July’s playoffs. August saw even more time out in the sun after invitations to turn out for fall ball. To avoid some serious photosensitivity rashes/blisters, watching my kids play baseball has required some creativity.
I present to you (drum roll…)
The Baseball Chair
Unlike commercial portable chairs, my awning extends out to the sides, in front, and behind for extra shade. It has a flap to block evening sun from the back, as well as flaps that can hang down on the sides when needed.
I can’t tell you the number of parents who approached me and asked about my chair – where I got it, where they could find plans, if I’d make one for them, if they could snap photos and try to make their own…
If you want to make your own chair to watch kids’ sports outdoors without breaking out in hives, this is easy to build. It has to be for me to make it. As to cost, I can’t say since I used materials I had on hand: old PVC pipe and decorator fabric that is now hopelessly out of style. The base and uprights are made from Schedule 40 so it’s nice and strong, as is the back bar of the awning. The sides and front of the awning are of the lighter-weight Class 200 PVC.
Notice the handy pockets added to the sides. These are especially nice for holding pencils, the scorebook, snacks, etc. I want to add a cup holder to one of the uprights, and am looking for a battery-operated fan — that would have been really nice during some of those extra-hot games.
Since I live in western Washington where we are noted for our liquid sunshine, I made a rain fly for the chair, too. That aspect of the chair still needs some fine-tuning, but I can attest to the fact that it kept me and the scorebook dry during a few games that were eventually cancelled a few innings later than they should have been.
- (8) 90-degree elbows
- (4) 45-degree elbows
- (4) T’s for the awning
- (2) T’s for each side you want to hang a pocket on
- (2) long bolts (must be longer than 2x pipe diameter)
- (6) washers
- (2) acorn nuts (rounded caps to completely cover the ends of the bolts)
- PVC pipe – exact lengths depend on how tall you are, so I won’t give dimensions
- canvas or strong fabric – you’ll get much better shade if you use a double-layer
- clear plastic, optional
A few tips I discovered: regulations change frequently, and plumbers end up with pipe in the warehouse that they can’t use. Sometimes they’re willing to give it away if you catch them on the right day and ask nicely. This is not true of the big box stores where you buy materials for do-it-yourself projects. If you must purchase connectors (T’s and elbows), they’re less expensive in packs of 10. Some PVC will not stand up to sun exposure, so it’s important to use the right type.