There’s a lot to think about when you’re planning a council event. In the past, things used to be simple. Just print up a flyer and wait for everyone to show up. But these days, even a small event takes more planning to pull off.

Even before the pandemic, it was becoming increasingly important to make sure your event focused on gathering safely. Since COVID-19, safety has become even more important. Events where someone is injured, property is damaged or someone gets sick from food poisoning can result in a claim. So when you’re planning your next council event, follow these tips for gathering safely.

Tips for Gathering Safely: Event Planning

Check Local Guidelines

Before going too far into your planning, check local guidelines. Local permitting rules can change from year to year and local health orders may still be in effect in your area. Some events with food will also require a permit.

Pick a Venue

There are several aspects to choosing the perfect venue for your event. It needs to be suited to the type of event you want to host. It should be large enough to accommodate all your guests—in many cases, larger than needed to accommodate social distancing needs. And it should be easily and safely accessible for attendees.

Contract with Vendors

If you don’t have the expertise to manage an attraction at your event, such as specialty equipment, caterers or fireworks, call in the pros. Only work with licensed and insured vendors, always use a written contract, and make sure you’re listed as an additional insured on their policy for the event day.

Make an Emergency Plan

Every event should have an emergency plan that addresses the risks for the kind of event you’ll face. Considerations might be how to evacuate or shelter in place due to severe weather, how to ensure attendee personal safety, or how to handle health emergencies or injuries.

Plan for Fire Safety

A small fire can easily cause damage and injury at an event, yet most are preventable. Always comply with local fire codes. Think about having fire lane access for emergency vehicles, fire extinguishers onsite, flame retardant decorations, wide row and aisle spacing, electrical safety, fuel storage safety, fireworks safety and grill safety.

Plan for Communications

Communicating before and during the event will be important for you and your attendees. Communicate any special instructions for severe weather forecasts, extreme heat or cancellations. Have an emergency contact list for personnel working the event. Think about having a loudspeaker available onsite in case you need to make an announcement.

Tips for Gathering Safely: Day of Tips

Open Event Registration

Some health guidelines may still recommend a guest list for contact tracing, but event registration can be useful for other purposes, such as venue choice, catering, and communications. Collect names, contact info and the number in the party.

Handle Food Safely

Food-borne illness is a risk it’s best to avoid at your events. Hot foods should be hot and cold foods cold. Keep cold foods out of direct sunlight and move to a refrigerator or freezer for longer storage. Cook meats to required temperatures and use separate utensils for raw and cooked foods.

Put Up Event Signage

A sign can be very helpful in an unfamiliar environment, especially when there are lots of people around. Use event signage to help attendees know where to park, entrance and exit locations, emergency shelter locations, important venue and event safety rules, and the location of event coordinators that can help in the event of an emergency.


Gathering for an event always carries the risk that something may happen.

With the right insurance, the council may be able to prevent to excessive liability risk. Check your insurance coverage before your next gathering to make sure you have the protection you need to enjoy your event safely.