With much of the U.S. literally and figuratively basking in the fact that warmer weather is finally upon us, event planning professionals everywhere are putting the scarvesand coats away and turning their full attention to the outdoor events that are such anintegral part of the summer season. From festivals and celebrations to sporting events,concerts and performances, warm-weather outdoor activities are a ritual in communitiesall across America.

Planning and organizing these events can be a formidable challenge, however. Fromsmall-but-important details like name tags, to big-picture logistics like parking, foodand beverage, organization, safety planning, scheduling details, and coordinating staffand volunteers, every coordinator knows the formidable challenges and work that mustbe overcome and accomplished in advance of a successful event.

What happens if the power goes out, however? No amount of delicious snacks orcomfortable seating can make up for a bandstand that suddenly loses power, or acommunity movie-in-the-park night where the screen goes dark.

Think it can’t happen? Well, if it can happen at the Super Bowl, it can happenanywhere—to any event. The key is to understand how to guard against just suchan outage. Emergency generators are a great solution, but they only go so far.Even the best generators can fail or run out of fuel. Unfortunately, many backupgenerators have insufficient generating or fuel capacity to keep anything but the mostessential systems up and running. Equipment you need for your event—lights, heatingand cooling systems, trailers, and other infrastructure—may not be supported.Consequently, it is vitally important that event planners organizing outdoor events inthe summer have a working understanding of what they can do to prepare for andguard against a potentially disruptive power outage.

Back it up x 2

Unfortunately, poor service and maintenance of backup power systems is all toocommon. As a result, generators fail far more often than you might think. Eventplanners would be smart to have their own plan in place, and not to rely entirely on the existing network at a venue or facility. Any effective plan will identify and addressexisting vulnerabilities and weaknesses. Sometimes that means bringing in extraequipment, and sometimes that means collaborating with a fueling partner whocan guarantee delivery in the event of even a widespread regional outage ordisruption. Prepare a game plan for what happens if key equipment loses power or ifgenerator fuel runs low, and plan accordingly.

Facility capability
Coordinating with your host or venue partner well before the event to review availablefacilities and capabilities is an important part of developing an effective outageprevention and protection plan. If there is vital equipment or infrastructure that thesite/ facility does not have available, make sure you are making plans to addressthat shortfall. Remember that even the best equipment is only as good as its fuelsupply. Make sure the venue has a contingency plan in place in the event of anemergency, as well as an existing relationship with a fueling partner who canguarantee uninterrupted delivery.

Shop locally
Trusted local vendors can be an important piece of the preparation puzzle. A good place to start your search for trusted fuel and equipment vendors is to ask your venue partner fora firsthand recommendation. Most venues will have established relationships with localand regional professionals who have proven themselves and can provide qualityservice and support. Local support can be especially important for anyone planning oroperating larger events (such as outdoor festivals or larger concerts and sportingevents) where it is far less likely that the venue will be able to meet all of yourequipment/fueling/backup power requirements.

Get pushy
Do not be afraid to ask questions and to push for clear and direct answers when planning your event. While every event planner will have their own priorities, it isalways a good idea to ask potential vendor/partners about service and deliverylogistics and specifically if they can they deliver in tight time frames and during “offemergency or urgent service need, and is delivery guaranteed, even in the eventof a region-wide emergency or large-scale disruption? Ask for and expect toreceive certainties and assurances.

The reality is that emergencies do happen, and that having reliable backup powersystems and supplies in place for any large outdoor event is critically important. Whenlarge numbers of people and large amounts of money are at stake, there is no suchthing as being over-prepared. Those who take the time to be proactive and thoroughwith their backup power planning will find that when a true emergency does takeplace, they will be able to “keep the lights on”.