IATSE Local 470 Northeastern Wisconsin

IATSE Local 470
Union Stagehands
P.O. Box 2421, Appleton, WI 54912

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EAA Info  

Summer Outdoor Shows

As we enter the summer show season, think about the additional considerations involved in working outdoor shows. Music Festivals, Oneida Bingo and Casino, EAA; these venues all involve working long hours in sometimes adverse weather conditions and NOT in our usual locations. Take extra steps to be sure you can works effectively and safely.

Besides the usual selection of tools a stagehand should bring to a call, you may want to add some additional personal gear to your kit: Raingear and a change of clothing in case of rain, spare shoes, a hat and sunblock, and so on. It may get extra hot (maybe a spare pair of shorts and T-shirt?), or pretty cool (especially after a rainstorm or after sundown) so plan accordingly. I like a layered approach as you can add or subtract clothing when the weather changes, and it will! You may go from sun and temperatures in the 90's to rain, wind, and temps in the 40's in the matter of a few hours. Wisconsin is like that!

flooded trailer Did I mention that it rains?

Dealing With the Heat

Wisconsin gets hot in summer. Some of our biggest outdoor events occur in July and August. Temperatures can be in the high 90's or higher. Such extreme heat can be dangerous, even life threatening. Specifically, excessive heat can cause heat exhaustion and then heat stroke. Heat exhaustion can be dangerous and debilitating. Heat stroke is a life threatening condition, a true medical emergency that can kill. It is important to know the symptoms of both so that immediate action can be taken before it is too late.

Heat exhaustion: the body is trying to cool down but is failing. Symptoms include elevated body temp, excessive sweating, cool clammy skin, nausea, and muscle cramps. Get the victim cooled down immediately. Take them to a cool location out of the sun. Apply cool wet clothes and supply cool drinks. Don't be surprised if the victim is still nauseous next morning.

Heat Stroke: the body can no longer even try to cool down. It has failed. Sweating stops. Symptoms include high body temperature above 103°, hot dry skin, fainting, confusion, slurred speach, nausea and vomiting, and collapse. This is a life threatening condition, a real medical emergency. Call 911 and get the victim to medical attention immediately! Meanwhile, get the victim out of the sun to a cool place. Apply cold wet cloths or get into a cold bath. The victim must be cooled down. They can no longer do it themselves. Do not force them to drink liquids.

For a more detailed information on heat related illnesses, how to recognize them and how to treat them, check out Warning Signs and Symptoms of Heat Related Illnesses.

Sunburn: often ignored, sunburn is actually a radiation burn caused by exposure to UV rays. Sunburn can affect skin of any color. No one is immune. Any sunburn increases the chances of developing skin cancer. A typical first degree sunburn will cause the skin to be red, dry, hot and painful. It is a fairly shallow burn. A deeper sunburn may cause a second degree burn. It is still painful, and there is more damage as skin layers in the epidermis separate to form watery blisters. The worst, while rare at our latitudes, is a third degree sunburn. This is a deep burn than reaches through the epidermis into the dermis. The skin will be dull or white and actual less painful to the touch. This because the skin has died and nerve endings are destroyed. There may be scaring. Second and third degree sunburns require medical attention. Third degree burns will require surgery to remove the dead skin.

To avoid sunburn, the best approach is to cover up. Wear a wide brim hat, and light, loose clothing that cover your arms and legs. If you opt instead for shorts and shirt sleeves, use sunscreen liberally, SPF 20 at a minimum; SPF 30+ is better. Reapply regularly, at least every two hours.

Getting There

Outdoor venues are often located away of other facilities. You may not be as familiar with how to get there, so be sure you know where you are going BEFORE you leave home. Don't count on your GPS; there may not BE a reliable street address to enter. Check our Maps section below, although it is possible you are going somewhere we don't have maps for! Take the time to get clear directions.

IF YOU HAVE NEVER WORKED COUNTRY/ROCK USA BEFORE check out the MAP to Country USA so you know here you are going!

In general, try to get there early: fifteen to thirty min. is good. Traffic can be unpredictable, and sometimes is re-routed, so allow time for surprises. For Country USA and EAA the police often re-route traffic patterns to handle the unusual loads which the local roads aren't designed for. Don't assume it won't be different than you remember, especially as showtime approaches. Heavy traffic means traffic jams. We still expect you to be ON TIME. If it seems you might be late, call the cell phone number for the Steward, which also means it makes sense to get the cell phone numbers BEFORE you leave home! If all else fails contact the B.A., but don't be surprised if he isn't there. He may be working the show you are headed for!

As mentioned above, it is usually very warm and you may be working outside and often away from a water source. It's a good idea to bring a bottle of water and sunscreen. Check weather in case raingear is in order. Bring the usual tools; gloves, a multi-tool or screwdriver and pliers, a crescent wrench, and maybe other tools needed to get the job done. You may find yourself building the stage as well as setting up the show. Lunch may be provided, but don't count on it. Lunch if not provided will be 1 hour long. Restaurants are usually some distance away, so many people bring a bag lunch. If you do, make sure you have a good cooler or bring non-perishable food. A sandwich left in a hot car is not good!

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF! Working a show is challenging, and working outdoors adds an extra level of stress. Keep in mind the 6:2:1 rule of festival survival. Not easy to follow, but it should be a goal!

"At any given time, in the previous 24 hours you should have had six good hours of sleep, two solid meals, and one shower and clean clothes. You cannot substitute one for the other, six meals and two hours of sleep just doesn't work." (Dale Farmer, Stagecraft Mailing List)

If you are a new worker (a "stringer") and you haven't read it yet, check out check out the "Permit Worker Information" packet for information and procedures.


Last modified July 2, 2021
Mick Alderson: mick.alderson@gmail.com