Hot weather tips for organizers of summer events

A great summer event depends on sound judgment and high-temperature planning. Hot weather peaks in Oregon at 5:00 p.m and can continue well into the late evening hours. Check the National Weather Service website for the hourly forecast and consider scheduling your event before or after the worst of the heat. 

If your event must take place during hot weather, consider scheduling strenuous activities for cooler times of day. If your event must take place during th

Kids march in the 2015 Good in the Hood Parade, where people used fans, misters and hats to beat the heat.
e high temperatures, consider scheduling strenuous activities for cooler times of day.

For events that involve a lot of production and setup, try to get those done early to beat the worst of the heat.

If your event required a permit, make sure you follow any obligations stipulated in the permit 

Schedule around weather.

Prepare your audience

As a special event organizer, you likely have a good idea of who will be participating in your event. To ensure that all guests are prepared to enjoy your event safely, make sure they know what to expect, what to wear, and what to bring, such as water and shade. Pay particular attention to people typically more vulnerable to the heat, including:

Practical gifts, such as branded sunglasses, fans, sunscreen, water or hats can go a very long way in providing relief and keeping guests happy.

Keep guests cool

Discuss air conditioning with the venue staff when planning an indoor event during the summer. Generally venues will have constant air conditioning, but when large crowds are coming together in a smaller space, the last thing the guests should be is uncomfortable or sweaty during your event. 

Establish shade. All outdoor events require shade. Tents are a great way to keep an outdoor event open and cool. If that’s not an option, then try to strategically use the landscape or set up overhead décor that provides shady relief. Provide plenty of resting places and seating in shady areas. 

Long lines in the heat can lead to overheated grumpy participants. Take extra measures to reduce lines that are in the direct sun.

Get Misty. When temperatures soar, consider renting misting systems to gently spritz and cool the event area. Rental fees for these systems typically run approximately $500 per day (depending greatly upon size of event space served).  If misting systems aren’t in your budget, a few inexpensive, low tech options can offer hot guest some relief. Hand fans, chilled scented towels.

Good Food

Provide lighter, non-creamy fare for your cocktail party stations and your meal to reduce the risk of spoilage. Summer menu items of cold, refreshing veggies, mango skewers and gazpacho shots are far more palatable in hot weather than heavier, cream-sauce dishes … and they’re often less expensive. 

Foodborne illness increases in summer. Stay healthy and safe during warmer months by following these food safety recommendations:

  • Use an insulated cooler filled with ice or frozen gel packs. Frozen food can also be used as a cold source. A full cooler will maintain its cold temperature longer than a partially filled one. When using a cooler, keep it out of the direct sun by placing it in the shade or shelter.

  • Avoid opening the cooler repeatedly so that your food stays colder longer.

  • Perishable food should not sit out for more than two hours. In hot weather (above 90 °F), food should not sit out for more than one hour.

  • Serve cold food in small portions, and keep the rest in the cooler. After cooking meat and poultry on the grill, keep it hot until served – at 140 °F or warmer.

Get creative with ice: Stay cool with infused ice: an easy and tasty way to cool off in the hot summer months. Infused ice is so versatile, as citrus fruits, berries, and even herbs can be used to dress up and flavor your favorite drinks.

Don’t run out of water. Summer demands stocking up on double the amount of water you might normally need. Keep water bottles chilled and continuously encourage attendees to stay hydrated. One fun idea is to purchase bottles with time markers listed on the side. For instance, if a marked line reads “2p.m.,” your water line should be at the mark or lower. It provides a friendly reminder for attendees to drink up!

Go easy on the alcohol. Alcohol is very dehydrating, and when temperatures are high people tend to drink quickly out of thirst. You don’t have to get rid of alcoholic beverages all together. Instead, serve drinks with lower alcohol content and minimal sugar. Light beers and wine spritzers are excellent examples of how this can be easily applied.

Know the signs of heat-related illnesses. Source: the CDC
Know the signs of heat-related illnesses. Source: the CDC

Entertain. Don’t exhaust

It’s important to keep physical activity to a minimum in the heat. The sun drains everyone and vigorous activity will quickly deplete energy. Let attendees engage in something mellow like a craft project. If they’re a more active bunch, try to incorporate water into activities. 

Performing is strenuous and stages can be very hot. Shade performance areas. Provide water, juice or sports drinks to performers. Schedule frequent performance breaks.

Traveling to and from your event can be exhausting in the heat. Shuttle services and free Trimet passes will help keep your guests cool and comfortable.

Learn the signs and symptoms of heat related illness. Have a plan of how to respond, including:

  1. Call 9-1-1 if you suspect heat stroke.

  2. Move the person to a cooler place.

  3. Help lower the person’s temperature with a cool cloth or a cool bath.

  4. Do not give the person anything to drink.