When Liability Strikes: Venue Management and Weather Monitoring
Everyone loves the outdoors, but what happens when liability strikes in the form of severe weather? Are you visitors and employees protected? And if something bad does happen, are you to blame? Find out the answers to these questions and more by reading the rest of this informative guide.
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Everyone loves the outdoors. We hit the links, hike wildernesses, relax under the sun, and compete in friendly games year round. In fact, in 2018 we collectively partook in 10.2 billion outings.
Unfortunately, for every beautiful day comes one with inclement weather. Without warning, severe weather can turn any open-air adventure into tragedy. During 2018 in the United states, lightning strikes:
- Killed 20 people
- Injured 82 people
- Caused more than $16 million in property damage
The threat of bad weather, however, will never stop business owners and organizers of outdoor venues from encouraging folks to step out. We just need to be smarter about how we track emerging weather patterns and predict their behavior.
Weather vs. Waivers
If you own and operate an outdoor venue, chances are you’re familiar with a standard liability release.
Some businesses require patrons to sign waivers before entering their grounds, others may post warnings clearly on tickets or visible signage.
Regardless of how a venue chooses to inform its guests of liability, the decision to do so is thought to protect its organizers from legal action resulting from accidents outside their control. Weather-related incidents are chief among these concerns, part of the reason why Earth Networks provides real-time weather and lightning intelligence through advanced monitoring technology in the first place.
The issue of liability is open to interpretation but there are several viewpoints that should be considered as part of the process.
What Do Insurers Think?
Insurance companies believe the owners of outdoor venues have one of three options when it comes to protecting patrons from weather.
Let’s use a golf course as an example:
Option 1: Do nothing at all. The course owners ignore the threat of weather-related injuries. Members golf at their own risk.
Option 2: Manually execute safety procedures based on human judgment.
Course employees use local weather reports or the internet to track storms. They inform a manager, who ultimately makes the decision whether to shut down. Staff sounds an alarm and directs all members out on the links to return to the safety of the clubhouse until the storm passes.
What About a Third Option?
Neither of the two previous options are ideal.
Option 1 is certainly the easiest to perform – doing nothing always is – but it fails to mitigate the cost of liability insurance premiums for outdoor spaces.
Option 2, while better, still puts outdoor venues at risk. What if the televised or internet weather reports aren’t disseminated in real-time or not relevant to the venue’s location? City or zip code based weather forecasts are not specific enough. What if employees can’t find a manager to make the final decision? What if they close the course unnecessarily and lose a day of revenue?
Is there another way?
Option 3: Install a fully automated lightning and weather detection system.
With advanced meteorological monitoring on site, the golf course would have up-to-the-second, hyperlocal information on incoming storms. These systems bypass human intervention so decisions are made on data, not gut instinct.
Best of all, many insurers appreciate such an investment into patron safety, so much so they may view the venue’s risk profile more favorably or offer Individual Risk Premium Modification credits that could adjust policies in the policyholder’s favor.
Beyond Protecting Patrons
When event coordinators, business owners and government employees all exercise their best discretion when collecting and disseminating weather data, they don’t just save lives. They also protect the outdoors so we can all enjoy them again when good weather returns.
Yosemite National Park, for instance, is known for its scenic waterfalls and indigenous black bears, bighorn sheep, and blue grouse. Unfortunately, its historic thousand-acre wildfires get far more press.
According to the National Park Service:
- Lightning strikes cause 1 in every 10 wildfires in the U.S.
- While humans are responsible for the remaining 90 percent, droughts and high winds certainly don’t help.
Automated lightning and weather surveillance could alert park rangers and fire departments when outdoor conditions are prime for potential wildfires. That way these workers can properly prepare to snuff out these threats should they spark up.
Speaking of workers, what about leveraging actionable weather data to protect employees and volunteers?
Parks, fairgrounds, athletic clubs – safeguards at these and other venues ensure the well-being of the people who make their events and activities possible. After all, injuries could drastically reduce staff levels and cost a lot in workers’ compensation claims, as well as raise insurance premiums.
- Wet or icy outdoor conditions only invite danger. Every year, slip-and-fall accidents on walking or working surfaces result in 3,500 employee injuries and a significant amount of missed work.
- 1 out of 4 injuries from winter weather involve people trapped out in a storm.
Actionable weather data gives employers and organizers the chance to take precautions and the flexi
bility to cancel operations in a timely manner when meteorological threats outweigh the value of opening to the public.
Consider the equipment, as well.
One study estimated routine weather phenomena cause nearly half a trillion dollars in damage annually. A single severe thunderstorm, hailstorm, hurricane or tornado can add millions or billions more to that total.
By developing decision-making processes around actionable weather data, outdoor venues with expensive equipment secure their operating costs and take full advantage of the assets they’ve already invested in. Moreover, the independent vendors participating in these events – DJs, food truck owners, art galleries – also want the same protections for their small businesses.
Furthermore, municipalities and recreation departments that fund outdoor events with taxpayer money ought to do everything possible to intelligently preserve what we all contribute to.
Build a Severe Weather Plan
It’s time to build a severe weather plan with actionable data from Earth Networks.
Although outdoor-business owners and event organizers may not have a legal obligation to predict the weather with 100 percent certainty, that shouldn’t stop them from analyzing weather and warning staff and visitors before bad turns to worse. Simple put, it’s the right thing to do.
Here’s your severe weather checklist for your outdoor venue:
Join the Earth Networks family of more than 17,500 neighborhood-level weather sensors and 18,000 lightning sensors
Collaborate on how to use weather and lightning information strategically within your organization
Automate Alerts for more than 25 different weather variables depending on your situation
Devise protocols for ushering patrons and safety in the vent of an incoming storm
Inform insurance companies of your investment in patron and property safety
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For more guidance on these steps and how to build a detailed weather safety solution, it’s time to read one of our buying guides.
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