Weather can make or break your event in more ways than one.  It can have an impact on attendance numbers and the event experience, which is totally out of your control. This can also impact your volunteers as well as your participants. What you can control is your management of your operations and logistics to ensure you are prepared for all weather events that may occur. Historical data is really helpful in helping to understand the possible weather conditions, but the weather can be unpredictable and it is best to be prepared for anything. Here are some planning tips on how you can evacuate your venue if need be:  

  • Find a local expert to access the weather for your planned date. If your event will be highly affected, it might be worth having this person on your team to manage and predict upcoming weather events. 
  • Look for trusted weather websites for your venue so you can find accurate weather/wind/tornado/snow/heatwave reports
  • Check historical data for the dates
  • Decide who will be on your decision making team when it comes to cancellations, evacuations or changes.
  • Don’t discount fine weather – sunstroke can have a major impact on your participants and also your team.

It is important to plan for the expected and unexpected and to know when it is unsafe for your event to go ahead. This then becomes an important step in your planning process to ensure you have some contingencies in place, a crisis/contingency team to make these key decisions and you have someone prepared to manage all areas of your event, should you need to make changes or cancel an event.  It is important for your brand to ensure in the event of a cancellation you are able to answer the hard questions and deliver the same, consistent message to everyone. Having a media plan is an important part of this process and knowing who is going to speak to the media and the various stakeholders at your event. 

It is important to educate your event crew on how to recognize what to do and also what the escalation points are for decision making. 

Some typical weather events are listed below with some ideas to help get your mind thinking about possible risks:

Wind

Wind is a big concern for an outdoor event and especially one with temporary structures.  It is important to know what the wind ratings are for what you have onsite, such as marquees, bouncy castles, pop-ups etc. Check what the wind ratings are for other areas of your setup, such as staging and other work at heights. 

  • Fencing with branding is more likely to blow over in the wind if it is not secured.
  • It is always a good idea to ensure your event crew have tools at hand to remove branding should it start to pose a risk.
  • Do you have a way to measure the wind onsite?

Heavy rain & thunderstorms

Heavy rain can play havoc with an outdoor venue and also for an indoor venue with things like parking.  Often you have the additional worry of thunderstorms with heavy rain. 

  • Could areas of your event flood if there is heavy rain? Is the venue prone to flooding?
  • What do you put in place for electrical equipment that you have onsite?
  • Can you still setup if it is raining heavily? Have you built a buffer into your pack-in schedule?
  • Vehicle pathways – will your venue still be accessible if there is heavy rain?
  • Will your parking still be accessible?
  • Is it worth having extra sand/bark onsite, or maybe a plastic flooring solution.
  • If you have a swimming component to your event, will heavy rain effect the water quality?
  • Will heavy rain impact your anticipated numbers?
  • Are you setting up a stage with work at heights? Do you have a buffer in your schedule if there is a lightning storm?
  • Tips from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration for lightning storms:
  • Immediately get off elevated areas such as hills, mountain ridges or peaks
  • Never lie flat on the ground
  • Never shelter under an isolated tree
  • Never use a cliff or rocky overhang for shelter
  • Immediately get out of and away from ponds, lakes and bodies of water
  • Stay away from objects that conduct electricity (barbed wire fences, power lines, windmills etc.)

Hot and Cold Weather

As previously mentioned, the weather is unpredictable and during certain times of the year, you could find that you have 4 seasons in one day. 

  • Can you inform everyone coming to your event what they need to prepare for?
  • What should your crew bring in their backpacks (hat, sunscreen/poncho/thermal)?
  • How can you communicate information to participants/attendees pre-event and also at the event itself?
  • If it's going to be cold – do you have a room or somewhere warm that you can warm people up? Hot soup and warming food onsite?
  • And vice versa, what do you have in place if it is extremely hot? How much shelter do you have at the venue?
  • Could you deal with mass numbers of Hypothermia?
  • Are a medical team on site? what are your options if not?
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