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Working in a Danger Wonderland

by George Petersen • in
  • December 2018
  • Editor's Note
• Created: December 12, 2018

I’ve often mentioned that summer is the sound season. With schools out, there are ample opportunities for the enterprising sound company — and not simply for huge operators specializing in major tours. In fact, summer provides gigs of every sort, ranging from street fairs to county and state fairs and everything from rodeos and demolition derbies to winery shows and small festivals of every sort. Weather can be a concern, but other than extreme climate events — unexpected lightning storms are perhaps the most dangerous — most of the summer protection requirements can be handled with sunblock, a good hat, a couple pop-ups to shade the FOH and monitor positions and plenty of water to make sure your crew stays well-hydrated.

The late fall and winter seasons also offer numerous outlets for sound companies, with the coming holiday season that seems to begin earlier every year — at least from a retail perspective. Aside from “Black Friday” promotions, these can range from football homecomings, rallies and bonfires, to Christmas pageants, concerts and recitals, community Christmas tree lighting ceremonies, corporate holiday parties, Santa arrivals at malls — the list goes on and on, up to (and including) New Year’s Eve.

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‡‡         Creeping Forward

Once upon a time, the harsh winter weather mostly arrived with the Dec. 21 onset of winter and lasted well through January, February and March. But now — just as Christmas items start appearing in stores the day after Halloween — the chills of winter seems to be creeping forward as well.

2018’s Winter Storm Avery came through the South, Midwest and Eastern states in mid-November, bringing record-setting cold temperatures, ice and snow that created havoc with transportation, causing nearly 2,000 flights to be cancelled, snarling motorways and leading to 11 deaths from weather-related conditions. This was almost immediately followed by Winter Storm Bruce, which battered the plains and Great Lakes states before striking New England with blizzard-like conditions and leaving more deaths and ground/air transportation headaches in its wake.

So far, we’re still months away from Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction, yet one thing seems clear and — buckle your seat belts, folks — factors seem to indicate that even with its official kickoff still weeks away, the winter of 2018-2019 could be a rough one. Not good news — especially for those still dealing with the aftereffects of hurricanes Michael and Florence and the wildfires in the western states.

‡‡         Be Prepared

Other than prepping your property, following evacuation orders and hoping for the best, there isn’t much an individual can do about wildfires or hurricanes. But most winter hazards can be avoided with a little common sense and preparation for weather or sudden changes in weather.

As audio providers, we’re in the service industry. And aside from the pleasures of constantly wrapping and uncoiling cables, a big part of that service is moving large quantities of heavy equipment between the shop and the job site. Step #1 is making sure your vehicles are up to spec. Check the brakes, cooling system (with its 50/50 antifreeze/water mix), battery (clean those connections!), belts, heater, tires and visibility systems — lights, defrosters and front/rear wipers.

Keeping an emergency kit in the vehicle is a good idea. This can be a simple or as elaborate as you deem necessary, but should include a cell phone charger, windshield ice scraper, flashlight, shovel, bag of sand or cat litter for traction, jumper cables, flares, a blanket and tire chains. I also include a couple inexpensive, semi-disposable rain ponchos, which are a real godsend. When you arrive somewhere and have to load in an absolute drenching downpour, you’ll appreciate that $1.99 investment. (But in a pinch, a couple large trash bags (modified with arm and head holes) can also do the trick.)

A major danger for those traveling on icy or snowy roads is skidding from encountering a slick section of roadway. Perhaps less dramatic — but still dangerous — are slips and falls when walking on snowy/icy surfaces. Here; a few basics, such as wearing slip-resistant footwear is essential as is simply taking smaller steps and walking at a slower pace over slick or icy surfaces and be aware that a layer of fresh snow can hide icy pavement underneath.

‡‡         The Bright Side

With a little preparation, hopefully we can all get through all those year-end festivities without incident. So go easy on the eggnog and enjoy the rest of 2018. And from all of us here at FRONT of HOUSE, we wish you a joyous (and hopefully profitable) holiday season, merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

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