A great summer event depends on sound judgment and planning. Hot weather peaks in Oregon at 5 p.m and can continue well into the evening. 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. 

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

Kids march in the 2015 Good in the Hood Parade, where people used fans, misters and hats to beat the heat.

Prepare your audience

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

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

Keep guests cool

Discuss air conditioning with venue staff when planning an indoor summer event. 

Find or make shade. Tents are a great way to keep an outdoor event cool. If that’s not an option, try to use the landscape or set up overhead décor that provides 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 from forming in direct sun.

Get Misty. When temperatures soar, consider renting misting systems to gently spritz and cool the area. Rental fees for these systems typically run about $500 per day. If misting systems aren’t in your budget, a few inexpensive, low tech options can offer hot guests some relief. Consider hand-held fans, chilled towels and ice.

Good Food

Provide light, non-creamy fare for your cocktail party stations and meals to reduce the risk of spoilage. Summer menus filled with cold crunchy veggies, chilled mango skewers and gazpacho shots are far more palatable than creamy dishes. And they’re often less expensive. 

Foodborne illness increases in summer. Stay healthy 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 to keep your food 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 water you might normally need. 

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

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 “2 p.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 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.

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. Consider offering heat-friendly fun such as arts and crafts. 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 on foot 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 and know of how to respond:

  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 (not cold) bath.