I tend to focus on the practical aspects on this website, with advice on how you can set-up your own backyard movie parties (check this list of 101 tips), or the best products you can choose to put your own outdoor movie nights on.
What I’ve never really covered though, are safety aspects, and in truth I’ve never seen anybody online cover this, so thought that today we would look at safety advice you should consider at your backyard movie party.
Here is some advice that you should consider in order to keep your friends and family safe from harm and injury on backyard movie night. If you can think of any more, then I would love to hear from you, so I can update this list.
1. Cover Up if it Rains
Rain and electrics don’t mix too well – but hopefully you knew that!
Be prepared for the rain, as when it comes you will need to make sure the power supply is switched off at the mains, and you get your projector, speakers, and media player back indoors or under cover as soon as possible.
2. Don’t Leave Your Equipment Out Over Night
Similarly, never leave your equipment out overnight, no matter how tempting it is to simply go to bed for the night once the movie has ended.
If you do leave items outside you run the risk of moisture and dew getting into them, which not only will damage your gear, but could also lead to an electric shock.
If you leave your projector set-up during the day, the heat from the sun could severely damage it. The more common scenario though is due to prolonged use or a restricted air flow leading to over-heating.
Movie projectors run very hot, and nearly all the models on the market use lamps and bulbs as their light source. These can emit a huge amount of heat, and in some cases can reach temperatures of up to 300 degrees.
That’s going to leave a very nasty burn, or even lead to a fire.
It is really important that you maintain and clean your outdoor movie projector. Also leave a clear space around the projector. This will help to ensure that air flow is not restricted which is the main cause of over-heating.
4. Fire and BBQ Risks
I don’t advise operating your projector near any heat source (or liquid source for that matter). Heat can lead to over-heating and malfunction – both of which could result in injury.
Another aspect is the dust and debris that flies from fires. This can get into the working components of your projector. It can lead to lens damage, or blocking of elements which could again lead to over-heating.
5. Swimming Pools
Be really careful near swimming pools. You might have seen those inflatable blow-up movie screens that can be used in the water. These are great fun but are inherently quite dangerous as it can mean your electrics will positioned near to a large water source.
Also, please don’t confuse the inflatable screens that come with blowers and fans as the same ones you can use in swimming pools that you inflate with a pump or with your mouth. The most popular inflatable screens (such as this one I recommend) are designed to be inflated with a constant electricity connection to power the blower.
6. Drinks Left Near Your Electrics
Given that backyard movie nights and parties are social affairs, it can mean that people become careless. Be really vigilant regarding people leaving drinks on your projector table, or near your media player – or another electric device for that matter.
In my 101 tips for outdoor movie parties I explained how I place items on the table around my projector (without blocking the air flow) to discourage people from leaving drinks near it. I do the same with the table that my media player sits on.
7. Tethering Guide Ropes
If not secured properly, wind can be a huge safety issue with standing or inflatable movie screens.
Make sure that you tether and secure your screen as tightly as you possibly can. The inflatable and standing versions available to buy online, come with ties, cords, and stakes so that you can secure them properly to the ground.
Secure and fasten the ties as tightly as you possible, pulling them so that there is no slack. If you have no soft ground to hammer the stakes into, instead use weights or tie the screen securely to your decking area or patio.
8. Make Sure that Tables are Level
It’s not always possible to find level ground in your backyard, but it is really important that you make your table as level as possible.
Once your projector and media player get set down, you don’t want them falling over, especially if you have people sitting at ground level. Some of older outdoor projectors can be very heavy!
9. Always Read the Manual
Any equipment you buy is going to have a user manual and instructions. I know it’s so tempting to not read them and just “figure it out as you go along”, but genuinely always read the manuals.
Outdoor projectors are going to be exposed to the elements, and potentially also overheat if used incorrectly, so it’s essential that you know how to use yours properly.
10. Cables Management, and Preferably Wireless
Be aware of where your cables are running, as they are going to present trip hazards.
If you have the option for wireless and Bluetooth, then take it. Many media players can be connected via Wi-Fi, as well as speakers, which can help to drastically reduce the amount of cabling you have in and around your backyard movie party.
11. Finally… Just Use Your Common Sense
And last but not least, just exercise some common sense when setting up your outdoor cinema experience. The above is by no means a comprehensive list of things you should be aware of, but are just a few tips I have picked up along the way to help improve the safety of your event.