When the Wind Blows: 7 Things That Can Prevent a Wind Disaster at your Event
The wind blows – that’s a fact. Many of us first understood the power of the wind as young children, wielding colorful kites on the beach. As adults, the power of the wind is only apparent to us when it becomes an inconvenience, when the power goes out or when our perfectly swept leaves are suddenly spread across the yard.
Unfortunately, many event professionals have had the unlucky experience of having wind sweep through their event; destroying everything in its path. A widely shared example was the recent “dust devil” that swept through the fanfest area at the Rose Bowl, picking up tents and throwing them around as though they weighed nothing. You can watch the footage here.
We too have seen tents, tables, flooring and a number of other items that aren’t designed to fly get picked up and tossed by the wind. Recently, our team was running two separate events at the same time, and both teams were forced to deal with flying tents, soaring tables and the public’s safety. At one event, a college football fan experience, grid mat – a lego-like flooring – was picked up in waves and went crashing down, shooting across the event space. One-hundred-foot tents with 3,000 pound weights were picked up and blown over, and our broadcast set was pushed off of its platform and onto the ground. Across town at our other event, a fundraising walk, a row of ten-foot tents were picked up and blown over like a stack of dominos into a nearby fountain; tables and signage went flying in all directions. Luckily, guests and crew at both events were cleared prior to the wind reaching dangerous speeds and nobody was injured.
After the wind picks up, there is not much that event professionals can do other than keep people safe. However, there are preventative measures that can be put into place when setting up the site. The number one goal is always safety, so here are seven things that you can do at your event to prevent a wind disaster:
7 Things That Can Prevent a Wind Disaster at your Event
- Watch the weather forecast: the forecast is your friend leading up to your event. It gives you a chance to develop a plan and establish contingency communications. As part of this plan, establish the definition of a dangerous wind speed for your event, and the wind speed that signals an evacuation. Know when will you go on wind alert, and more importantly, when you will evacuate people from the tented spaces and the site. Make sure your client and team agrees and understands the safety and evacuation protocol.
- Weight your tents properly: always, always weight your tents sufficiently. This is the difference between small 100 pound weights that can become projectiles and wind effecient 3,000 pound weights that will keep your tents from flying.
- Hire a reputable tent company: if your tents are engineered and installed properly, the odds of your event surviving a wind storm increases dramatically. Small popups are easily tossed and broken when the wind picks up. Don’t forget to have on hand the phone number for your tent company lead. Don’t hestiate to call that lead if the forecast is worrisome, and certainly when things begin to feel dangerous.
- Watch for jumping tents: if your tents begin to hop, that means the wind is picking your tent up from underneath the canopy, this is a dangerous situation. If this begins to happen make sure that everyone evacuates the tent safely and keeps their distance from the structure. Jumping tents tend to fly, while wind stressed tents tend to crush.
- Tighten up: Be sure to tighten down, strap up, add weights and secure anything attached to your tent structures before a wind situation. Remember that signage becomes dangerous and is usually the first thing to break away in the wind. If you are using sidewalls, then tie them securely to the tent frames and be careful to move interior objects a safe distance away from bulging walls.
- Turn tables upside down: it might not seem like a table is something that can go flying, but it can. If your tent is beginning to hop and it feels like a dangerous situation, quickly turn all tables upside down to prevent them from becoming projectiles. Remember to also lower any signage and barricades.
- If a tent begins to fly, keep your distance: some people are inclined to chase flying tents, this is a terrible idea and these people are just asking to get injured. Nothing good can come from grabbing onto a flying object that has more force and strength than you ever will. Stay away from flying tents.
As all safety mesaures go, stay alert, pay attention and react early with your public safety decisions. We hope that these windy day tent tips are helpful, if you have any questions send us an email or give us call, we’re always happy to help!