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It’s a Scorcher!

Nook Schoenfeld • August 2019Editor's Note • August 9, 2019

Nook Schoenfeld

As summer comes along, so do the myriad of outdoor shows. From sheds to stadiums, from gridlocked parking lots to asphalt amusement park stages, the one thing we all have in common is this summer’s unprecedented heat.

The battle is real, despite what our president is calling a hoax. Last month the OZY Festival in NYC was cancelled by city officials due to heat emergency, following a week that saw a large power blackout in Manhattan. With a heat index of 114°, there was no way the producers of the event could protect a large crowd from the sun and ensuing heat stroke issues.

The city expected this to be a hot event, one where John Legend played music and people such as Trevor Noah, Megan Rapinoe, Padma Lakshmi, Spike Lee and Mark Cuban were scheduled to talk. They prepared the best they could, even making sure to announce ways they could keep cool on posters and social media (see screenshot, this page). But in the end, it just wasn’t worth the health risk to have that many people on Central Park’s Great Lawn on a blistering day.

Dangerous heat in NYC forced the cancellation of the OZY Festival despite extensive measures to keep the crowds cool.

‡‡         Hot Weather Strategies

Promoters of large scale shows such as the EDC in Las Vegas have been dealing with heat issues for years. The smartest move this event has done recently was moving the dates of the event from June as it had been previously, to the month of May, which doesn’t feature the 100+° temperatures daily. This month we feature an article on the campgrounds at this event. But one thing that isn’t discussed thoroughly is how the crews worked through the day on these grounds and how they and the attendees battled the heat. I rang up PM Russ Felton to see how they dealt with the issue.

“This was on the forefront of every safety meeting we had from the get-go. Besides assembling large areas for the masses to get in the shade during the day, the campgrounds offered their temporary residents air conditioned tents. If the attendees were overheating, they could go cool down and recoup their energy in their personal rented tents. As for all the large tents on site that held various events, they were all open on two sides to allow the breezes to circulate through them. It made a huge difference. We also severely lowered the temperature of the grounds by covering the black asphalt with Astroturf. In addition, every cart we have riding around the site is equipped with a cooler full of ice and cold water for anyone that needs it.”

They hired local crew whose normal workday started at 5 AM and with any luck, was over by 3:30 each day. Russ expands, “These locals know how to work in this weather, and most of them came prepared to work, with long sleeves and proper attire.” I questioned him on the wearing of long sleeves in such hot environments. “Now a days they make clothing with innovative UPF 50+ fabrics often designed to block 98% of UV rays and is guaranteed to provide incredible sun protection. Wide brim hats really helped. My boss had some clothing made out of bamboo. People no longer have to lather themselves with chemical protection to avoid the UV rays.”

‡‡         Help Your Brothers and Sisters Out

There’s only so much the promoters can do to keep the crowds cool. People are going to mosh. They are going to forget to eat regularly. As workers in this industry, we should also be knowledgeable of the signs that people need help. If you see something — say something. Whether it’s a concert-goer or a worker who appears to be slowing down, stop and make sure they don’t need some help.

Couple of common sense quick reminders to all of us working outside this summer.

  • Drink fluids — even when you don’t feel thirsty
  • Eat small amounts, but eat often
  • Wear loose fitting and light colored clothing
  • Slow down and pace yourselves. Never egg on a coworker to “keep up.”
  • Be aware of abdomen and leg cramps, which point to dehydration.


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