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Special Event Safety Plan


Quick Summary
Screenshot Ignoring safety planning for a special event could be disastrous. Even simple issues like weather-inspired evacuations can become a logistical and legal nightmare without some advance planning, however rudimentary. This document outline is designed to get the safety conversation started for your event, and help you build up a framework that makes sense given your venue, resources, and level of risk aversion.


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What this is

This document provides an outline and sample content for a special event safety and emergency plan. Typical events that might need a plan like this include parades, summer concerts, city festivals, and holiday observances. Employers could use a plan like this to improve safety at company picnics, job fairs, or similar events. It will not cover all contingencies, but it will get the conversation started.


Why it's useful

Special events are often run by volunteers or organization members who have limited personal experience in event management and crowd control. Parades, concerts, festivals, company picnics, and similar activities are a significant undertaking, and careful planning is required to maintain event security and participant safety. There are usually local and statewide regulations to consider, and any large public event involves a certain amount of risk. Without careful attention to public safety planning, civic groups and volunteer organizations could risk getting mired in unanticipated legal problems.

Having a designated and approved emergency plan reassures event sponsors and organizers that proper attention has been paid to public safety and emergency planning, and ensures that risks are examined and consciously accepted. Some venues may require a safety plan before the event can proceed. In those cases, this outline can provide a starting place for crafting a plan appropriate to your event's expected attendance, resources, and circumstances.

The outline presented in this document was used by an actual event committee (in this case, a local parade) to put a baseline safety plan in place and ensure that risks to participants and spectators were consciously accepted or mitigated.


How to use it

Important note: This outline is only a starting point, and may not be appropriate for your venue. Be aware of any city, county, or other governmental ordinances, regulations, laws, or restrictions and ensure that your final plan is fully compliant. Disregarding regulations may be dangerous, expensive, and potentially disastrous. This template is intended to be a guide to begin your own safety plan document. The outline is annotated and contains extensive sample text.

  1. Designate a safety planner. The safety planner is responsible for implementing a culture of safety during event planning, and maintaining that viewpoint throughout the event.
  2. Begin safety planning early in the planning process. Brainstorm possible safety risks associated with your event. The table on the last two pages of this outline provides some initial ideas. Your list may run to several pages. Note: these are all real concerns, but they don't all have to be addressed, especially for small events. Plan to mitigate likely risks, consciously accept unlikely ones. The point is to be sure risks are acknowledged and accepted, not ignored.
  3. Meet with key stakeholders to discuss safety planning. If your event planning is already well underway, this is a great time to get caught up. Include representatives for event security, the fire department, local law enforcement, municipal risk management, and other critical stakeholders. Determine what mitigation actions the team will take, assign tasks, and monitor those tasks for completion.
  4. Communicate early and often. Distribute the approved safety plan to all core team members and critical stakeholders. Keep safety in mind during planning and training meetings. Stay in communication with stakeholders in the weeks leading up to the event. Plan to distribute safety information to participants and volunteers the day of the event.
  5. Consider holding a pre-event safety training meeting. If you are using same-day volunteers, try to hold a pre-event training meeting for the designated leaders and coordinators. The more you can do in advance, the more you will lighten the load during the event, and ensure that important safety messages aren't lost in the chaos.
  6. After the event, review lessons learned with all stakeholders and record your observations. Even if your event is a one-time affair, someone else may benefit from your experience in the future.

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