Amateur Meteorology Must Become A Thing Of The Past, Safety Experts Warn Live Event Producers

A dramatic shift in weather that’s producing an unprecedented surge in pop-up thunderstorms, superstorms, and tornados is challenging live event producers to completely re-think their approach to real-time weather forecasting. Fortunately, for the live event industry, this challenge comes at a time when a new generation of advanced weather detection and monitoring systems are available to help make all live events safer live events.

“Plan ahead when the sun is shining and not when the storm clouds roll in — that was the simple but powerful message delivered to the more than 200 professionals who turned out on March 19th for the second Take 1 Insurance sponsored Event Safety Webinar,” Take 1 Insurance Executive Vice President & Program Director Scott Carroll said today. Take 1 Insurance is the entertainment industry’s leading insurance solutions provider and a founding corporate sponsor of the Event Safety Alliance (ESA).

Hosted by New Bay Media’s Rental & Staging News, the Event Safety Webinar included presentations by Carroll, Event Safety Alliance (ESA) Executive Director Jim Digby, and Weather Decision Technologies (WDT) Senior Vice President David VandenHeuvel. A complete transcript of the webinar is now available for all to access at this link.

The webinar focused on issues such as weather planning and "predictive weather forecasting" vs. "nowcasting," or rather, the dilemma a producer faces when deciding whether to pull the plug due to dangerous conditions. With weather detection technology, pre-emptive insight for event producers and venues alike is now accessible, and in many cases, necessary.

“Incorporating the latest advances in weather forecasting and monitoring into a comprehensive safety plan is probably the single most important thing a producer can do to ensure a safer outdoor live event,” explained Carroll. “Weather affects every aspect of an outdoor live event and it’s becoming a huge issue, in particular from the point of view of insurance providers who want to make sure that every eventuality is considered if not planned for.”

According to Carroll, insured losses from natural disasters in the United States in 2012 more than doubled the average of annual insured losses in the 11 years prior. Thunderstorm events, Carroll asserted, are becoming a greater percentage of overall annual insured losses. Although the jump in damage from natural disasters in 2012 was in part due to superstorm Sandy, Carroll asserted that weather is changing and everyone involved in planning and producing live events must be prepared.

“We have all experienced weather changes throughout the years, so we know that weather patterns are more severe,” Carroll said. “Therefore, we’re experiencing more thunderstorms, and typically with thunderstorms, come wind storms, and it’s the wind that can cause large amounts of insured damage. And, severe local storms are on the rise in terms of the percentage of insured damage they cause.”

Up until 2011, many event producers relied on their own amateur meteorology skills when deciding whether or not to evacuate an outdoor event. “I considered myself an amateur in-the-know meteorologist,” said Jim Digby, ESA Executive Director. “But questions like, should we evacuate, or shouldn’t we? Who will make the call? Who will tell the audience? Where would they go? were all conversations that were happening in real time, and that’s not good.”

“Being weather savvy does not prevent you from being exposed to weather damages,” VandenHeuvel explained. “However, using a professional weather service like WDT takes the burden of monitoring the weather off of the producer’s back and puts it onto our meteorologists.”

Luckily for event producers, WDT’s team of expert meteorologists applies a varying degree of different weather triggers when monitoring for a single outdoor event. Weather advisories starting seven days prior to the event give producers a better grasp on if and when to pull the plug due to an unsafe situation. “You won’t save lives if you don’t have a plan and a robust communications protocol in place,” VandenHeuvel advised.

For a go-to guide on all aspects of live event safety, the Event Safety Alliance Guide is now complete and available on eventsafetyalliance.org. In addition, ESA is now offering Event Safety leadership training courses intended to enhance the safety awareness in the live event space. “Our hope is that these classes will close the gap between event officials in charge with no required training whatsoever, and those who are required by their employers to have safety training,” Digby said.

According to Carroll, Take1 Insurance, together with the Event Safety Alliance, will be hosting a series of follow up, subject-specific Live Event Safety Webinars in 2014. “We sponsor these webinars to help educate the dedicated public involved in putting on live events,” Carroll said. “The subject and primary focus is always safety first.“



Take1 Insurance Outlines Five Vital Steps to Ensure Live Event Safety

Asserting that safety must become the number one priority of every live event producer, Scott Carroll, Executive Vice President & Program Director of Take1 Insurance, today said that there are five vital steps that should be followed when planning any live event.

“The biggest mistake an event producer can make is to not ask enough questions,” Carroll said today. “These questions are easy to overlook, but the answers are critically important for developing a thorough safety plan.”

According to Carroll, the first step to take to ensure a safer live event is verifying that all vendors have insurance policies with contractual capabilities to make anyone an AI to their policy. Each vendor should be able to produce proof of insurance, and asking a few simple questions about their coverage can highlight potential coverage gaps or inadequacies.

Second, for outdoor events Carroll advises that producers fully understand the terrain. Producers should use on-site weather monitoring tools to stay ahead of any potential storms. Powerful apps for smartphones and tablets show wind speed, direction, and approaching rain, but for larger more sophisticated shows and venues, actual on-site weather monitoring personnel may be best.

Third, identifying stakeholders behind the vendors is also important when ensuring event safety. “Who has the authority to stop the show should equipment fail or inclement weather becomes a safety issue? Find this person and meet with them to determine a decision timeline,” he added.

Fourth, customer-facing vendors such as concessions, security and parking companies typically have the most exposure to incidents because they touch virtually every spectator and show personnel. Vendors should always be chosen based on which company has a safe and successful track record, not whichever company offers the cheapest bid. “Choosing the right vendor can be the difference between smooth sailing and a huge headache,” Carroll added.

Finally, Carroll urges event producers to develop their own plan for emergency situations. “Ask yourself ‘what if’ questions and figure out the best way to address the potential issues,” he said. “What if the wind suddenly picks up above 30 miles per hour? What if there is an active shooter on the scene? What if the rigging vendor can’t supply evidence of insurance? What if a food vendor has a fire? Answering these questions can help identify and ultimately eliminate potential disasters before they begin.”

Second Take1 Webinar to Focus On Incorporating The Latest Weather Technologies Into An Event Safety Plan

Responding to requests from a wide range of professionals for a safety webinar focused specifically on producing safer outdoor events, Take1 Insurance, the leading insurance provider to the entertainment industry, today announced that it will host a webinar focused on how to best utilize the latest advances in weather forecasting and monitoring technology — Weather First: A 60-Minute Primer on Incorporating Weather Technology in Outdoor Event Safety Plans.


According to Scott Carroll, Executive Vice President & Program Director of Take1 Insurance, the leading entertainment insurance provider is again teaming up with Event Safety Alliance (ESA) to ensure the March 19, 2014 webinar is as compelling as the inaugural event safety webinar that was held last November.  The March 19 webinar will take place at 2:00PM eastern standard time and is open to anyone involved in the business of producing and staging live outdoor events.  


 “Incorporating the latest advances in weather forecasting and monitoring into a comprehensive safety plan is probably the single most important thing a producer can do to ensure a safer outdoor live event,” Carroll said today.  “Weather affects every aspect of an outdoor live event.  From an insurance perspective, when it comes to weather planning, we are going to want to know, in some specific detail, how the weather will be managed and monitored at the show site.”

Elaborating further, ESA Executive Director Jim Digby noted that the webinar will focus specifically on issues like weather planning and "predictive weather forecasting" vs. "nowcasting," and show stop/hold planning. “I am very proud to announce that this webinar will involve the participation of David VandenHeuvel, Senior Vice President of Enterprise Services at Weather Decision Technologies (WDT) in Norman, Oklahoma and a founding member of the ESA.  David has over 32 years of weather and safety experience, 23 years of which were in the United States Air Force (now retired).  WDT has developed custom weather decision aids and services specific to the live event industry, including interactive maps, alerting and mobile applications.”


According to Digby, in 2013 WDT provided weather support for over 1,500 events around the globe, including Linkin Park, Paul McCartney, and the just completed 2014 Super Bowl in East Rutherford, New Jersey. 


Event Safety Alliance To Debut Industry's First Event Safety Guide For Live Event Professionals


After nearly two years of development and the input of hundreds of industry, regulatory and safety professionals, the Event Safety Alliance (ESA) today announced the forthcoming release of the Event Safety Guide — the live event industry’s first comprehensive reference guide of established industry best practices.

 According to Jim Digby, Executive Director of the Event Safety Alliance, Version 1.0 of the Guide will be available at the LDI 2013 Conference and Tradeshow in Las Vegas (November 21-24) at Booth #2363.

“The official release of the Event Safety Guide is an historic milestone in the standardization of safety practices within our industry,” Digby said today. “With the first edition of the guide complete, we now move our focus to efforts helping professionals apply its contents in the planning and safe execution of their events.  Among the many developing resources on the horizon by the ESA - safety leadership training for event professionals.”

 According to Chester Bennington, lead vocalist of multi-platinum rock band LINKIN PARK,  “I'm extremely proud of you, Jim, and the immense amount of work you and your colleagues have put into this historic moment.  I'd like to express for the entire music community, both professional and nonprofessional, our gratitude to the ESA for considering our safety, the audiences safety and the well-being of all by insuring that every possible consideration for venue and operational safety and security have been assessed by the industries' top professionals.   The tragedies that will be prevented by your unwavering dedication to all of our safety means that the work of the ESA will — in the greatest way — go unnoticed as we go home each night without incident."

Printed editions of the guide will be available for purchase on the Event Safety Alliance website next month. Additionally, eBook versions of the Event Safety Guide will be available for download at several online retailers including Amazon, iTunes and Barnes & Noble. Both formats of the guide will be sold for $49.95, with proceeds from all purchases helping the ESA develop additional resources and further the message of “life safety first."

“From the very beginning, our goal has been to have the Event Safety Alliance become the industry’s preeminent safety advocacy trade association," continued Digby. “By making the guide available at a cost below most publications of this type, we believe we can continue to grow the ESA while making sure this critical information is user friendly and gets into as many hands as possible."

 Developed in response to a series of accidents within the live event industry, the Event Safety Guide is a collection of best practices culled from the experience and insight of top professionals within the event industry, as well as relevant life safety standards currently applicable by groups such as OSHA, NFPA, ICC and PLASA. Prior to the Event Safety guide, no such comprehensive collection of guidance existed that industry professionals could refer to covering many of the unique hazards the industry faces. Modeled after the U.K.’s “Purple Guide”, the Event Safety Guide is intended to serve as a one-stop reference to help users ask the right questions while planning for and managing events. It addresses a broad range of topics relevant to most events including emergency planning, weather preparedness and personal protective equipment, as well as technical issues such as temporary staging, rigging and special effects. The guide has been intentionally designed for field use, written in straightforward language with contents organized topically to aid in quick access to information.