Carnivals. Concerts. Deep fried…well, just about everything you can think of. Animals being judged. It’s fair time across the Midwest, and in other areas of the country as well. Cities have farmer’s markets, and back to school events like football games are starting up.
It’s also the “second” severe weather season in the Midwest. This is where we see another uptick in activity of damaging winds and hail to tornadoes. Not as much as we see in the spring, for the most part…but it is significant. And that raises the question of event safety. What if…a thunderstorm hits while your high school or little league game is being played? Forget about severe thunderstorms for a moment. Your child is holding a lightning rod, or if they’re playing football, they’re isolated sitting ducks in the middle of an open field, the highest objects around. And during a county or city fair, Internet coverage, especially 4G, may be overwhelmed with users.
It’s a potential disaster, and the onus is on you to plan and prepare for it. What happens if you don’t? Potentially, this:
Now, your Little League team may not get sued for $39 million if your kids get struck and hurt or killed by lightning, or hit with flying debris in high winds. But do you want THAT on your conscience for the rest of your life, knowing that there was a nearly 100% chance you could have mitigated the issue?
So right about now, you might expect me to go into a rant on how we (AllisonHouse) could save the day, and by buying this or that package, software and data, you’ll be fine, right?
Not even close.
In fact, if you are responsible for a group of kids, or crowd at a public event such as a little league game all the way up to an auto race or collegiate or professional football game with 70,000 people in the stands, there are 3 things you MUST have before you should use our products to help you do anything. Here they are, in order:
1. A meteorologist on-site, or always watching the situation remotely. He or she will know the tools they need to help you when things get bad.
If you cannot afford that, then you must have this:
1b. A TRAINED person CONTINUOUSLY sitting in front of a monitor or screen, watching the radar. No, having the umpire check the radar inbetween innings doesn’t count. Having someone watching continuously who doesn’t know what they’re doing, and/or doesn’t have the right tools, doesn’t count. Where can you get training? Here are some great sites to get you going:
Once you have received training, then that person can watch for storms continuously. And to do that, he or she needs…
2. A reliable primary AND backup Internet connection. You’re at a little league park or high school football game. Do you think your carrier will guarantee you reliable Internet? If you have a colleague or friend who has another provider (say, you have AT&T, and your friend has Verizon, and he/she can tether their connection to your phone), that’s reasonable. However, I’d prefer at least one Internet connection via Wifi instead of cell phone towers, at least until 5G is widespread. Even then, two connections are a MUST for reliable acquisition of data and alerts.
3. An Emergency Action Plan (EAP). Now, don’t lose me here. This could be as simple as “stop the Little League or high school football game, make the announcement to go to your cars, and wait 30 minutes until the last thunder is heard”. In fact, if you are a venue manager, you better “stamp the hand” of those coming in. If they need to leave for shelter, they can come back in quickly when the danger has passed. But, make sure the plan is adequate, and covers:
B) Thunderstorms producing 60 MPH winds (40 MPH for many tents)
D) Any other hazards that can cause problems at your location (flooding? High winds? Snow/ice?)
Sometimes, the best thing you can do for a little league or high school game if a tornado threat is increasing is simply cancel. That’s a good action for an EAP. But what if the threat is over at 5 PM, and your games start at 7 PM? Too many people just cancel the games out of precaution, but it is unnecessary to do that unless the field is too wet…if the threat has passed. Thinking this through will make you ready on game day, whereby you don’t have to spend time going “what am I going to do?”. When things were calm and skies were sunny, you figured it out. And you won’t cancel unnecessarily, either.
The science of meteorology is far from perfect, but it’s very good, and getting better with time, thanks to better technology and tools. As a result, “Acts of God” arguments in court due to injuries and fatalities at venues that were hit by severe storms are now regularly getting thrown out…IE, you could be sued or held liable if you didn’t have adequate preparation and an EAP in place. Even if you aren’t legally liable, the thought of seeing a dead child on a football field or baseball diamond after a lightning strike should give you chills. And nearly 100% of the time, it is COMPLETELY PREVENTABLE with a plan, and a person judiciously watching to make sure bad weather isn’t coming…and is ready to tell the venue to act on the plan when things do go south.
So do us a favor: get there first. THEN you can come to us here at AllisonHouse, and we can help you to the finish line, and keep your event as safe as possible from hazards coming down from the sky.