From drizzling to full-blown thunderstorms, rain is hardly ever a welcomed occurrence at an outdoor event. While many participants may insist that the rain is there to make them tougher on the race course, your job is to make sure they stay safe. Here are a few rainy day obstacles you may encounter as an event safety medic.
Weather monitoring throughout an outdoor event is always key. Using a program such as Weather Tap (which provides the same information that the FAA uses) will give you live Doppler, flash flood warnings, and lightning strike information. It can pinpoint the exact position of a lightning strike. Remember to inform event authorities every hour on weather conditions and as soon as possible when major watches and warnings are issued.
If flooding occurs, close low-lying sections of obstacle courses and race routes immediately. Monitor for flash flood warnings. Direct participants to higher ground. Do not allow participants to walk through water; however, if it is necessary for survival, travel through water that is not moving.
When you are monitoring the weather, keep an eye out for nearby lightning strikes. Where is the lightning? How far away is the lightning? Inform event authorities when strikes occur within twenty miles of the course. When lightning strikes reach within ten miles of the course, shut down the event. Direct participants to sheltered areas such as inside buildings or cars. Do not use trees as shelter since they can catch on fire in lightning strikes. Everyone should remain off the course until thirty minutes after the last lightning strike at ten miles out.
Plain Old Rain
What if the rain isn’t severe? You will still need to keep an eye out for injuries caused by slickness on course obstacles, roads, and trails. Scrapes, bruises, sprained ankles and wrists, and even broken limbs can occur when a course is slippery.
Also encourage participants to wear the proper gear - waterproof outerwear (including Gore-Tex running shoes) and layers in case of temperature changes. Without warm, dry coverage and with long exposure to damp weather, conditions such as trench foot and hypothermia may occur.
Some rainy day events will end up being mildly inconvenient while others may be life-threatening. Always keep an eye on the weather and prepare for all circumstances.