Unbearable, earth-scorching temperatures posing a threat to the environment also endanger the health of meeting attendees exposed to such extreme heat. In July, roughly 100 million Americans came under an extreme heat warning issued by the National Weather Service as states stretching from the south-central region to the Northeast were hit with blistering triple-digit temperatures, encroaching on daily records in the states of Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas.
The bottom line is that the planet has been heated by more than 34 degrees Fahrenheit thanks to greenhouse gas emissions resulting from human activity since the pre-industrial era, meaning that the increased baseline temperature will allow for hotter heatwaves, Reuters reports.
The July heatwaves that sapped parts of the U.S. and Europe were once expected to naturally occur on land once every 10 years. However, the current conditions allow for similar events of extreme heatwaves every three years, ETH Zurich climate scientist Sonia Seneviratne said.
Event professionals must now anticipate what attendees will be exposed to even in destinations where extreme heat is not the norm. For some, this means making air conditioning units, misters and expansive sunscreens standard for all outside events. For others, it could mean foregoing the use of an outdoor venue altogether while selecting a venue that features an extensive sustainability program.
Moreover, fallout from climate change is taking a toll on some of the most popular travel destinations. Lakes are quickly evaporating while famed wooded areas in locations such as Yosemite, Lake Tahoe and the southwest region of Alaska—previously considered to be fireproof—are burning more frequently than ever, causing massive revenue losses to the local tourism industry.
In addition to carefully selecting a venue for its sustainability policies, event planners are now enlisting the services of consultants that specialize in disaster response and mitigation. Kenyon Emergency Services, a 2021 acquisition of Air Partner, offers large-scale disaster response services specifically for hospitality and tourism, including support for guests and staff during a disaster such as massive fire and coordination with local authorities.
How Planners Can Beat the Heat
Bolstering emergency medical services at events in regions experiencing bouts of extreme weather can help to ensure that attendees will get the help they need in the case of a health emergency. Moreover, event planners should provide attendees with the appropriate information on the warning signs for heat-related illnesses including heat stroke and heat exhaustion.
Heat is one of the leading weather-related killers in the United States, resulting in hundreds of fatalities each year, according to the National Weather Service, so event planners should closely track heat warnings and advisories issued by local authorities and the NWS to anticipate what additional measures need to be taken to protect event attendees and staff.
Knowing your audience will help provide valuable data, such as the age range of attendees, which can be utilized to protect vulnerable groups. This information can be collected prior to an event in the form of surveys or “calls with friendlies” to create effective event programming and can assist an event planner in anticipating attendees needs.