Growing up in the Midwest, I learned young that the number one rule of Halloween was to have a plan for last-minute uncooperative weather. This year is no exception, as the temperatures in my hometown took a cruel and sudden turn from the low 80’s to the high 20’s this week. While trick-or-treaters can get away with wearing a puffer coat over their Halloween costume without justifying the look, accommodating unexpected cold weather for an outdoor haunted house attraction requires many last-minute changes and preparations to maintain a spooky atmosphere without freezing out workers and customers. We wanted to provide a helpful checklist of safety measures to consider if the weather is colder than forecasted on the night of your Halloween event. Be sure to add additional considerations specific to your unique business!
Cold Weather Considerations Checklist
- Warm Halloween Costumes for Actors: Dress your actors with thermal layers that can fit under their scary outfits. This ensures they stay warm while salvaging their frightening appearance. Gloves, socks, and stocking caps can be layered without changing their look much. Actors should have access to portable or disposable hand warmers to line their pockets with.
- Heating Solutions for Outdoor Events: Rent free-standing outdoor heaters and set up backstage heating stations for actors and staff between scenes. If you place heaters for guests, try to place them away from entrances or where lines form. Make sure the crowds they attract aren’t blocking pathways or vendors.
- Securing Décor: Part of winterizing any outdoor holiday décor involves securing it or weighting it in advance; just assume anything unsecured will blow away or could become a hazard in high wind conditions.
- Cold Weather Pathway Safety: Have a plan to keep walkways clear of any ice, snow, or water that might accumulate (such as pre-salting) to prevent accidents and ensure safety.
- Weather-Proof Waiting Areas: Provide designated waiting areas and lines with outdoor heaters, wind barriers, and overhead protection from mist or precipitation.
- Warm Beverages for Halloween Attendees: Offer hot beverages like coffee, tea, hot chocolate, or warm cider to attendees waiting in line to dissuade them from giving up and seeking shelter.
- Accommodating Disabilities in Cold Weather: For people with disabilities or young children who might not be physically able to wait in a cold line, offer the opportunity to put their name on a waitlist to enter the attraction at a designated later time, rather than waiting in the line.
- Closing Time: Consider the safety of your staff if they have to leave late during extreme weather conditions. Will safe public transit still be running? Are there nearby emergency rest accommodations in case someone cannot make it home safely? Would emergency services be able to quickly and safely make it into your parking lot to help with vehicle problems due to cold?
- Insulating Water Hoses in Cold Weather: If there is a water source connected with a hose (like a handwashing station), that hose will freeze much quicker than the pipes. The resulting lack of water could affect many things. Consider the comfort of your guests, the safety of food vendors, and possible damage to property. Hoses should be insulated, and can be heated if necessary.
- Cold Weather Affects Electrical Cords: The thinner the extension cord, the less well it will work in very cold conditions. Read the ratings on the cord and replace it before the event if the weather is likely to dip below recommended operating temperature.
- Backup Power for Outdoor Events: Have backup power sources in case cold weather affects the primary electrical supply. This is especially important for lighting, sound systems, or special effects.
- Updated Cold Weather Safety Measures: Review and adapt safety protocols to include additional measures for cold weather conditions. Address potential slip hazards or colder temperature risks in advance. Even things like dry air or modified performer costumes can cause major safety issues for riskier effects like pyrotechnics. Cold will absolutely affect dexterity-based performances like aerial acts.
- Emergency Cold Weather Equipment Check: Verify that emergency equipment is available and in good working condition. Stock items such as heaters, first aid kits, or emergency blankets. Confirm that staff members know how to help or direct customers who need accommodations or emergency care.
- Marketing and Ticket Policies for Inclement Weather: Communicate inclement weather policies or reschedulings due to severe weather conditions as far in advance as possible. Post on as many platforms as possible. Make sure that ticket holders are notified before they arrive at the event of any policy changes due to weather.
- Weather Policy Communication: Update your website, social media, or any public communication channels with information about how the attraction will operate under cold weather conditions. Be sure to include any changes in schedule or added precautions.
- Staff Briefing for Cold Events: Conduct a pre-shift briefing with staff and volunteers. Update everyone involved on any changes and address safety concerns related to cold weather.
Cold weather haunted attraction preparations
Preparing an outdoor haunted house attraction for cold weather requires attention to detail. Preparation is critical to ensure the safety and comfort of both attendees and staff. Hopefully this checklist of Halloween event safety measures helps you address potential cold weather issues quickly, while maintaining the spooky atmosphere of the event.
You know what else requires attention to detail? Your marketing plan! If you want next season to be even bigger and more profitable, get on the Shadowreach Marketing consultation schedule now. You’ll be glad you did when you feel completely prepared next season.