Maybe we’re pessimistic, or just realistic about the British weather, but when planning an outdoor summer event, most PTAs will have a wet weather contingency plan. However, very hot weather can also have a significant impact on open-air events and a hot weather contingency plan will help ensure everyone has a safe and enjoyable time.
Where to start
Look at the layout plan for your event to see what can be moved into the shade. Move food and drinks indoors to keep them cool and away from insects. Indoor seating will give your visitors the option to stay in the shade or sit in the sun if they wish. Erect gazebos or marquees to provide shade for attractions or stalls that must remain outside. If you don’t own enough gazebos, put a shout-out to your supporters to see if they have any you can borrow.
Food and drink
The types of refreshment your visitors will want to buy in hot weather will be different, with ice creams and slushies being far more popular than cakes and cups of tea. Stock up on ice-creams, cold drinks and ice cubes. Commandeer extra freezer or fridge space, or borrow more cool boxes to keep drinks cold. If it’s too late to stop supporters donating cakes and biscuits – and you can store them effectively – hold a pop-up sale after school the next day and sell off the surplus.
Take care of your volunteers
Many PTA events rely on volunteers, and an event such as a summer fair will require lots of helpers standing out in the sun for an hour or more at a time. Look after your volunteers by offering water or other cold drinks. If possible, have a runner deliver drinks to the helpers on their stalls, as they may not be able to get away if they’re busy. If you have a barbecue, remember those volunteers will be doubly hot and bothered!
Build a water zone
Introduce water activities which will be popular with children visiting your event, and will keep them cool: a ‘water zone’ with water guns and water balloons is quick and easy to set up; foam water shooters are relatively cheap to purchase and can be filled from a bucket to save repeated trips to a tap. Make sure your water zone is fenced off from other areas, is well supervised, and be sure to add it to the risk assessment for your event.
Providing a first aid point at a large event is always good practice. If the weather is exceptionally sunny, offer visitors somewhere quiet and shady where anyone feeling the effects of too much sun can sit and be treated, if necessary. Stock the area with drinking water, and consider having suncream available for visitors to use. If you do have suncream on offer, make sure you have parental permission before offering it to children.
We all know that the weather can make or break an outdoor event, but don’t let too much sun go to your head, or those of your visitors, and make a plan for if it gets hot, hot, hot!