Preparing for Unexpected Winter Weather

Winter Team Fun

In the Event Planning and Event Management Group on LinkedIn, Rennette Grace, a Minnesota-based Freelance TD and On-site Meeting Manager, asked some interesting questions:

"Has the extreme weather this winter been affecting your events? What types of accommodations - if any - have you needed to make to have a successful event despite the weather?"

Many event planners in southern U.S. states and other areas where it usually doesn't snow are grappling with these questions for the first time.

The short answer is sometimes the weather is so severe that there is no way around cancelling or postponing an event. As I am based in Toronto, there are some preparations for winter events that are so routine that they are taken for granted in Canada: 

1. Select the Venue

If your event will be taking place between mid-December to early March, it is a good idea to select a venue that has fireplaces and fridges in guest rooms, fireplaces in meeting rooms, and the infrastructure for central heating. Here are 7 Cool Winter Event Venues.

Ask questions to ensure that the venue is prepared in the event of unexpected snow. Find out if there are enough coat racks, or where these can be rented if the venue doesn't have them. Identify an area or room that can be converted into a coat and boot check. For small to medium groups, you will want to have boot trays. For larger groups, discuss covering an area with plastic to store wet boots and shoes.

Determine if the venue has enough shovels or snow blowers to prepare the parking lot. If it doesn't, find out about organizations that provide snow plowing services in your area., 

2. Prepare Your Vehicles

Every year in October or November, Canadian drivers routinely winterize their vehicles. If your area is to be hit by snow, it important to prepare your vehicle and ensure that vehicles required for your event (like busses and limousines) are adequately prepared. The following steps will ensure that you can start your car:

  • Get an oil change and switch from 10W-30 to engine oil with low viscosity (thinner) like 5W-30. The owner's manual will provide the specifics for your vehicle.
  • Switch to winter coolant usually about a 60% coolant to 40% water ratio.
  • Switch to a winter grade windshield washer fluid. Ensure that you are topped up and that you have an extra container in your trunk.
  • Ensure that your windshield wiper blades have enough rubber. If they don't, replace them.
  • Get your battery checked and, if necessary, replace it.
  • Purchase a snow brush and windshield scraper. I like to have 2. I keep one in the car and bring one inside the house or event venue in case the car is covered with snow.
  • Change to snow tires.
  • Some vehicles may need chains for extra traction.

3. Don't wait for severe weather to hit.

Identify a garage that has supplies on hand or that can get them in quickly if you require them. Be sure to have an emergency kit in your car, including:

  • Drinking water
  • Snacks
  • Blankets
  • Extra sweaters
  • Winter hat, mittens and scarf
  • Boots
  • Extra socks
  • Hand and foot warmer packets
  • Flashlight
  • Flares
  • Radio
  • Extra Engine oil
  • Extra Washer fluid
  • Extra Coolant

If you are renting vehicles, make sure there are drivers on staff who are experienced winter drivers. Fortunately, people move around a lot so even if you are based in the Southern states, the company should be able to source drivers with winter driving experience.

Tomorrow, we'll discuss preparing the venue, your guests and yourself.

For more weather advice, read Selecting the Right Season For Outdoor Team Building and Corporate Events.

Photo Credits: Executive Oasis International, Winter Corporate Events

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