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Outdoor music venues are taking precautions amid extreme heat conditions. What concertgoers should know.

In Entertainment
June 19, 2024

As record-breaking heat bears down on major regions across the country this week, outdoor concerts and events are still in full swing, drawing packed crowds to parks, amphitheaters and festivals.

This comes nearly a year after a string of concerts were plagued by casualties due to heat-related causes. Last July, over a dozen heat-related injuries were reported at an Ed Sheeran concert in Pittsburgh. The following August, an outdoor Snoop Dog concert in Houston saw 16 hospitalizations for similar issues. Months later, a Taylor Swift fan died after going into cardiac arrest during a performance in Brazil, which was reportedly due to exhaustion caused by a heat wave.

With temperatures soaring into the triple digits in the Midwest and Northeast in recent days, music and event organizers are ramping up safety precautions to ensure that attendees can enjoy the show without compromising their health.

While venues are increasing shaded areas and providing ample hydration stations to help keep their guests safe during the sweltering heat, here’s what concertgoers can do to offset any potential health risks.

The Mann Center in Philadelphia, where a heat advisory was issued on June 18, says it’s all hands on deck for crowd safety.

“Emergency medical personnel are always on site, and there are free misting fans stationed around the venue,” a representative of the Mann Center, which hosts numerous outdoor concerts at its TD Pavilion, told Yahoo Entertainment.

Before each event, the venue informs guests to bring 20 oz. water bottles — and to refill them frequently at the free stations located throughout the venue. There are also “huge overhead fans,” which the representative said are on full blast these days.

Over at Asbury Park, N.J., known for hosting music festivals like Sea.Hear.Now at its scenic beach and boardwalk, heat warnings are displayed throughout its spaces. Signs with directions to the nearest emergency stations are also visible, as are instructions on what to do if you or someone else is experiencing signs of heatstroke.

Guitarist Lee Kiernan of Idles performs at Sea.Hear.Now Festival at North Beach in 2022 in Asbury Park, N.J.

Guitarist Lee Kiernan of Idles performs at Sea.Hear.Now Festival at North Beach in 2022 in Asbury Park, N.J. (Jim Bennett/Getty Images)

Outdoor venues in the area are making sure they’re equipped to handle emergency situations, a city representative told Yahoo Entertainment. The Asbury Park Fire Department is on standby at every outdoor event.

Oceanic winds are also helpful in mending the wrenching heat. “One of the greatest things about being a shore town is that you have one of the biggest natural AC units: the Atlantic Ocean.”

A representative of New York City’s Central Park told Yahoo Entertainment that they’re working with city and state agencies to ensure crowd safety. For events with over 5,000 attendees, producers are required to have private medical providers file for a permit from the state’s Department of Health.

Chicago’s Grant Park, home to major festivals like Lollapalooza and the Grant Park Music Festival, is taking extra precautions this summer as well.

According to a Grant Park Music Festival organizer, it’s routine for park festivals to work closely with the city’s office of emergency management to “determine protocols necessary to protect performers and audience members.”

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - JULY 29: General view of the crowd on day 2 of Lollapalooza at Grant Park on July 29, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Legato/Getty Images)

A crowd of concertgoers at Lollapalooza in Grant Park in July 2022. (Scott Legato/Getty Images)

That includes providing “cooling buses” near the venue — where attendees can step inside for short-term relief from the heat — as well as numerous cooling misters on the grounds. Worst-case scenario, the organizer told Yahoo News, is that extreme heat may cause festivals to be cut short.

“During periods of high heat, we will shorten the length of our programs and provide longer breaks for performers to cool down backstage,” they said.

When attending an outside event in extreme heat, Brian D. Avery, an event safety expert and University of Florida professor in the College of Health & Human Performance, said hydration is key — ideally, a minimum of 8 fluid ounces every 20 to 30 minutes.

Clothing is equally important, he explained to Yahoo Entertainment, as well as using sunscreen and being super aware of your surroundings.

“Wear lightweight and breathable attire,” said Avery. “Acquaint yourself with the event’s layout, seeking shaded zones, cooling and drinking stations, and medical facilities.”

To that end, Avery said it’s important to pay attention to your own body so you can recognize early signs of heat exhaustion. Seek immediate medical attention if you or someone shows symptoms.

Early signs of heatstroke include “profuse sweating, debilitation or weariness, cool and moist skin, a rapid yet feeble pulse, queasiness or vomiting, muscle spasms, lightheadedness and migraines,” Avery explained.

Connor Fitzpatrick, vice president of CrowdRx, which provides emergency response teams for big events, said it’s important to plan ahead, pace yourself and apply due diligence before attending outdoor events in extreme heat.

“Choose venues with a good reputation for safety and security,” he advised Yahoo Entertainment. If available, attendees should also “download the venue’s app for real-time updates and emergency instructions.”

Most importantly, pay attention to humidity levels and overcrowding, and know where to find the nearest water station and restrooms.

At outdoor venues, bathrooms, water facilities and health stations can sometimes be hard to find. In those cases, Fitzpatrick said, it’s vital to be aware of the nearest ones in case of emergencies — either for yourself or for someone else.

Overcrowding, especially in extreme heat conditions, is another important factor to be aware of.

“When movement becomes difficult and personal space is compromised, it can increase the risk of injuries,” Fitzpatrick said. “Take breaks from the sun and crowds to cool down and rehydrate. Stay hydrated by bringing a refillable water bottle, and consider supplementing with electrolyte replacement drinks.”

Avery echoes the importance of due diligence, noting that venue operators sometimes fail to update attendees with “up-to-the-minute weather information and safety directives” before and during a scheduled event, which may compromise efficiency.

“Outdoor festivals can be a fantastic experience, but it is essential to establish safety protocols to safeguard all involved,” he said.

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