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Event Security Tips; How to Keep Your Guests Safe

by Dan McCarthy, Event Manager at JD Parties on Sept. 20, 2016

Safety always needs to be a top priority for event planners. Bodily injury can cause serious liability issues. A disrupted event can also lead to negative publicity.

Security has actually become an event trend as more planners begin to place a heavier emphasis on safety. Send a message to potential party crashers that their intrusion is not welcome. Follow these security tips to ensure a safe and orderly event.

  1. Choose a Responsible Venue

You should always visit potential venues in person to see the facility’ layout with your own eyes. Are there sufficient emergency exits spaced out evenly? Is the building on par with local codes, and when was the last building inspection? Are there access points for paramedics to enter the premise? How about an emergency parking spot for a fire truck and police vehicles?

This may seem like a lot of questions, but they are questions to ask the venue administrator. You don’t ever want to compromise safety. In addition, you should also know the locations of the nearest hospital, police station, and fire department.

  1. Have a Backup Plan

You should have the mindset that anything that can go wrong will go wrong. This will have you prepared and ready to act accordingly in a worst case scenario.

Do you have a contingency plan in place in the event of a natural disaster or bomb threat? If guests have to be evacuated, will you be able to organize it and keep attendees calm as they exit in an orderly fashion?

You should create a safety plan that outlines the steps to take in an emergency. If a guest is injured, for example, then the plan should include steps like calling an ambulance, locating a room for tending to the guest while awaiting paramedic arrival, and so forth.

One real-life example occurred during a June 2016 self-empowerment conference held by prominent motivational speaker Tony Robbins. Multiple guests suffered minor burns to their feet after walking on a bed of hot coals during a mind-over-matter exercise.

Are your staff ready and equipped to respond in a situation such as this involving dozens of injuries?

  1. Hiring a Security Firm

Some organizers have their own staff act as security detail, and in some instances, this is good enough. However, higher profile events require security personnel from an actual security service. Having actual personnel complete in uniform and gear also sends a more imposing message to people who may think about crashing your event or acting unruly.

Much like picking out a venue, you should also be asking multiple questions when selecting a security firm. Questions to ask include:

  • What kind of certification and training do personnel go through?
  • Who are some of the company’s previous clients?
  • Can they name an incident where their personnel had to act in an actual emergency?
  • Do members have experience using items like a metal scanner, zip cuffs, etc.?
  • Has the company ever been sued?
  1. Check Staff and Guest ID

You should be able to verify anyone who enters the venue. You should have a list of everyone that’s attending and cross them off as they register. If you have walk-ins, then there should be a speedy process for getting them verified. If you are handing out official name tags, ask that guests have them visible at all times.

Staff should also not be afraid to approach occupants that don’t have a visible tag. You should also be ready to call in security personnel if a guest refuses to show verification.

  1. Search all Bags

Aside from undergoing a metal scanning, guests should also be prepared to have their bags searched. Be sure to inform guests before the event that attendees will be subject to an inspection of their belongings. Searches and scans should be done by security rather than by your own staff.

Guests may be more willing to go along with the process if it’s carried out by uniformed personnel. There should also be an area for tagging and storing contraband items and a process where guests can retrieve them once they leave.

  1. Watch all Doors

This step is similar to checking IDs. There should be at least one person, preferably a security personnel, at each entrance at all times. It is this person’s duty to make sure everyone entering has the appropriate ID or wristband. This person will also be responsible for checking bags and answering basic guest enquiries, such as where to check in or where the restroom is located.

The person manning the door is also the person guests may turn to for reporting events. As such, that person needs to be ready to handle certain situations, such as escorting an unruly guest out of the building, or at least be the one to report it.

The vast majority of events go off without a precarious situation arising. Nevertheless, the possibility of one occurring is very real. You need to be prepared because if you don’t act accordingly, then not only do you jeopardize the safety of your guests, but you might also irreversibly compromise your company’s reputation.

This is a guest post by Dan McCarthy, Event Manager at JD Parties, an event management company based in the UK. Dan has five years of event project management under his belt. He has worked on many successful events, and currently he shares his knowledge by writing on the company blog. Follow him on Twitter @DanCarthy2

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