According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 600 Americans die of extreme heat every year. If you have an outdoor event scheduled in the next couple of weeks, be aware that much of the country is under an extreme heat advisory, which means you could be subjecting your attendees to an uncomfortable couple of hours, or much worse. While southern states may be used to extreme heat, some cities may not be prepared for this summer’s heat wave.
Here are a few tips to keep your events hot-weather safe.
1. Check for heat advisories in the area where you are planning your event. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has a map highlighting areas of high temperatures. You should also check local news sources for air quality alerts. The sooner you determine it might be too uncomfortable for an outdoor event, the sooner your venue can help you update your plans.
2. If possible, add language into the contract with the venue about temperature. Request that if it’s too hot or too cold an alternate space is provided. Other backup strategies are tents to provide shade, or the possibility of rescheduling a luncheon to an evening event. Fans are a better alternative to tiki torches as they keep bugs away and provide shade, and look into renting misting machines to keep guests cool at events that can’t be rescheduled or moved.
3. The Red Cross advises people in hot weather to stay hydrated but avoid alcohol and caffeinated drinks. Ask the bar staff to go easy on spirits in cocktails and have waiters walk around with water and lemonade.
4. Exertion can exacerbate heat exhaustion so talk to the venue about hiring golf carts or a shuttle bus to ferry some of your guests to the event site, even if you think the distance is short. Once there, increase the number of chairs available even if it is a standing reception. Older people and those with compromised health may need to rest.
5. Know the signs and treatment for heat exhaustion and heat stroke. (See chart below.) People who are dancing and socializing may not remember to drink or rest enough and suddenly need attention.
6. Practice self-care! Planning events is stressful but don’t assume you have a stress headache when you could be suffering from life-threatening heat stroke. Stay hydrated and spend as much time in air conditioning as possible.