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Strategies for Organizing Safer Special Events

When your school plays host to athletic events, graduations, fundraisers and family nights, the safety precautions you implement prior to these gatherings can lower your risk and increase the chances of attendees having a great time.

Here are some pointers to ensure your next event goes off without a hitch:

Start with the basics. Consider what could go wrong, how you can prepare for that possibility and how you will respond if a situation arises.

Cover your bases. If you are working with outside vendors, use well-written contracts to manage expectations and responsibility, and obtain certificates of insurance. If alcohol will be served at the event, transfer the risk to an outside party and make a plan to limit consumption through tickets or a cash bar.

Keep an eye out for potential dangers. Look for slip and fall hazards, and clear walkways accordingly. Identify exit routes. Keep in mind more vulnerable guests like children and the elderly. Inspect school grounds for depressions, holes, slick spots and other slip and fall hazards, then make sure they’re filled, cleared or visibly marked. Identify and clearly mark exit routes. You’ll also want to check your event gear:

Electrical equipment: Keep cords away from walkways or adequately marked with bright warning tape. Make sure any electrical equipment outdoors is adequately protected from the weather.

Outdoor tents: All stakes and ropes should be visibly marked and protected, and have a qualified professional inspect the tent before it’s used.

Chairs and tables: If you are using temporary or folding chairs or tables, make sure they are sturdy and defect-free.

Secure your building. If your school will be open or partially open to the public, secure appropriate supervision to ensure that only designated parts of the building are used. Consider signage, locked doors or other means to restrict access to areas of the building that you do not wish to open up.

Create an emergency plan. Things that are a nuisance during regular operations become a crisis when extra people are on campus. Have a response plan for employees and volunteers in case of severe weather, medical issues, fire and other emergency situations. Make sure all the volunteers and employees are trained on these response plans and have emergency contact information. Work with local authorities if your event has the potential to impact local traffic flow or will require additional emergency response. It is far better to have the conversation about emergency egress and medical evacuation before the big red truck pulls onto your school grounds.

Conduct a post-event evaluation. Debrief about things that went well and things that could have been better. Many school-sponsored events are held annually. You will have another chance to improve the event.


© 2024 GuideOne Insurance. GuideOne® is the registered trademark of the GuideOne Insurance Company. All rights reserved. This material is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to give specific legal or risk management advice, nor are any suggested checklists or action plans intended to include or address all possible risk management exposures or solutions. You are encouraged to retain your own expert consultants and legal advisors in order to develop a risk management plan specific to your own activities.