• EMA's Event Safety Tips

    11 Quick tips for safer events or gatherings

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    Small to medium-sized gatherings, events, festivals.


    We believe these simple conceptual tips could be employed to help make events healthier, safer, and more respectful.


    EMA is proud to be working on a project with the Entertainment Services & Technology Association (ESTA) and Event Safety Alliance (ESA) that will supersede these recommendations when complete.


  • Before you start

    1) Appoint or hire a health and safety coordinator

    Although event organizers can be the "health and safety coordinator", EMA recommends there is one more competent person responsible for event safety at the event. The "health and safety lead" would be in charge of health and safety for the entire event and work with the medical director (if any).


    This person should be the lead in a chain of command if health and safety responsibilities are delegated to other event team members or a safety team. The "heath and safety coordinator" could:

    • Consider all topics covered in this quick tip guide.
    • Be a team member to interface (if applicable) with EMTs, Police Department, Fire Department, Event Security & Harm reduction staff. Should be experienced and competent manager, able to be a point of contact with all different risk management & event staff teams.
    • Create a minimum of a 1-page Event Safety Management Plan, a written document that includes a chain of command, contact information for anyone working the event, a risk assessment, and protocols regarding health and safety and major incidents.
    • Have a minimum of 1 ESMP meeting in advance of the day of the event to identify foreseeable risks.
    • Make sure there is one ESMP meeting on the day of the event so event staff has the chance to review or be updated and agree on any health and safety plans.  This can include running through strategy exercises or drills regarding risks, logistics, and communication plans.
    • Post emergency numbers on-site in the event organizer's office or have emergency numbers accessible on mobile devices and ensure there will be a way to contact emergency responders or outside service providers if necessary.
    • Ensure there is a means of extinguishing fires (such as a fire blanket or extinguisher).
    • Consider the safety and sanitation of bathrooms facilities for event attendees.
    • Consider the safety impact on the surrounding environment including neighbors and wildlife.
    • Investigate opportunities for the implementation of health and safety messages in marketing material and communications and at the event.  For more information, check out our EMA guide to health and safety page messaging.


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    2) Planning/Disaster/Legal

    All gatherings should have a plan. We call this an "Event Safety Management Plan" or "ESMP".

    ESMP includes considerations for the health and safety of attendees at their events. The ESMP should include a risk assessment and should also identify the "health and safety coordinator".


    We recommend frequent planning meetings even for small gatherings. For larger events disaster (rain, wind, fire, natural disaster) plans should be considered and drawn up, reviewed, and discussed with pertinent teams before build-out or the beginning of the event.


    These plans should take into account local law enforcement & emergency service regulations, in addition to the history of the location.


    Confirmation of the "command chain" in emergency situations is critical. All team members associated with this should be assumed to be "on-Comm" for the duration of the event and should be vetted accordingly.


    For the health and safety coordinator, consideration should be taken for preventative health and safety measures that may include consideration of damaging high decibel sound to attendees and wildlife which might then include a recommendation on the positioning of speakers and monitors. There should be plans to provide hearing protection to workers and event attendees upon request. For more health and safety considerations, please refer these guides.


    For a more thorough planning guide:

    Event Safety Alliance


    For tips on fire safety, please visit:



    For DIY Venues


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    3) Water + Electrolyte Availability

    A water and electrolyte plan should be in place before any building for the event occurs. This includes water stations, staff training/shift plans, and access to rehydration resources in the event of heat stroke or heat exhaustion. All client-facing staff should be trained in customer service & general event information.


    Electrolytes: For multi-day events, electrolyte loss becomes a key factor in the sustainability of the event and the well-being of attendees. This should include electrolyte gel or tablets, multivitamins, Coconut Water/ Electrolyte replacement drinks (preference to drinks without high fructose corn syrup or crystalline sugar), and (organic) salty snacks. 3rd party vendors should handle the sale, but general or free distribution should be performed by event staff.


    Cool-down areas can be helpful to encourage attendees not to over-exert themselves and provide sometimes needed space for relaxation. Events that experience high temperatures or a lot of sun exposure should consider misters in the cool-down area.


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    4) Harm Reduction Services and Staff

    For small events, the Health and Safety coordinator might be sufficient. Medium events should have an internal harm reduction service or staff who are in charge of specific harm reduction awareness issues & messaging. This team of harm reduction staff would be responsible for rotating shifts of roaming the event and dispensing information about the venue, line-up, water, earplugs, feminine products, condoms, consent, safe-space issues. They should know how to escalate issues they hear about to the Health and Safety coordinator, Medical, or Security if need be.


    This system should have both a fixed point of contact (vendor table/tent/dome/etc) and also involve roving staff or volunteers to identify situations before they might be escalated.


    Harm Reduction staff should also be in charge of helping to identify pathing hazards (sharp objects, wet floors, loose wires). They should be trained to communicate with individuals or staff in charge of janitorial duties, security, and medical. There should be a separate area for individuals who need various types of a sanctuary or additional assistance, as space allows. Consideration of consent policies are also advised.


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    5) Rest/ Relaxation

    There should be some activities or areas set up to encourage event attendees to occasionally rest and cool down. This should include a comfortable and aesthetically pleasing relaxation area. These areas should be supervised by the harm reduction staff.


    Misters (away from electricity) should be looked into for events that are known to be hot or are expecting hot temperatures.

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    6) Pathing

    This is part of risk assessment. All roads, walkways, and paths for foot traffic should be reviewed with full capacity in mind to evaluate for bottlenecks, crowding and blocking emergency vehicles. All large areas should have emergency vehicle access and fire exits and paths clearly marked.


    Signage for fire exits and bathrooms should be made if not already available. Battery-powered exit signs can be bought (make sure batteries are working). The signs should be big, bold/ easy to read, perhaps with reflective paint or tape being utilized if the signs do not light up.


    Be mindful of anything you hang up.


    Fire Department standards should be complied with fully. Upon closing, security should always walk all of the boundaries of the party to ensure no one gets left behind. Please read the Event Safety Alliance guidebook for more specific recommendations.

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    7) Ventilation

    All enclosed spaces need to have dedicated temperature control, especially when indoors.


    When outside, adequate shade needs to be provided to ensure the sun doesn't significantly affect the dance floor and crowded areas.


    For outdoor areas during high temperatures, misters should be considered for cool-down areas (with risk assessment of electrical equipment and outlets).

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    8) Talent Management

    Before arrival, all talent should have travel and accommodations. All talent and their management teams, should be provided an appropriate event staff contact for requests and emergencies.


    Headliners should be assigned a dedicated staff member.  Consistency is recommended. Executive assistance skills are key.

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    9) Transportation

    Crisis Intervention should have a plan for medical transports to-and-from various places inside the festival, including all stages & living quarters.


    Cab & van companies should be consulted or enlisted in advance to ensure sober driving of festival attendees to various transport locations or parking lots.


    Additionally, (and if applicable) local law enforcement should be worked with to ensure the volume of traffic associated with the end of a medium-sized festival/concert doesn't disrupt traffic patterns & local roadways.

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    10) Maintenance

    & Janitorial plan

    "Leave No Trace"

    We saved the best for last!


    Clean up crews, MOOP (matter out of place) patrol & sustainability plans should be in place before build-out of the event.


    Plans for consistent trash removal, vomit clean up, & general janitorial duties need to be on paper with either 3rd party vendors or a dedicated team lead to manage this.


    Spilled drinks are common, wet floors and crushed bottles on a dancefloor can be hazards. A janitorial individual or staff, or roving volunteers should be trained to make regular rounds of the event space to identify hazards related to clean-up maintenance.


    Note: This is during the event and therefore in addition to a post-event break-down or strike crew. "Leave No Trace" should be the standard met without question.

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    11) Environmental Consideration

    EMA sometimes uses the phrase "PLURR". It means "peace, love, unity, and respect" but we add an extra "R" to stand for "responsibility". Many within the scene have expressed the idea of "we are One", meaning they have felt a connection to all the people at the party but also the greater connection to the Earth (and cosmos). This last tip then offers the opportunity for us to respond to or act upon this sense of connection.


    When planning an event, we can consider the impact we will have on the local environment, especially the wellfare of sentient beings (wildlife and local neighbors). Considerations would include disturbance of soil, trees, homes and sanctuaries to animals when placing structures, pathways, and managing waste. Sound impacts should also be acknowledged as some animals (like birds) might abadon a nest due to loud sounds. Having awareness of who permanent residents (animal or human) are in locations that are not at fixed venue sites may take some research. Just do it ;)


    As we like to say at EMA, "our parties should not come at the expense of Nature". This is an application of what the R's in PLURR stand for.


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    A Safety Note from a Fire Official


    "Open space with no sprinkler system,

    poor exits, and no security is a red flag"



    Remember, these suggestions have been made with citizen safety in mind.


    Poor exits and no sprinklers means the building has probably not been inspected and approved by the fire department. The fire department would like to to remind that if these red flags are observed,


    "you should think twice before going inside."

  • About Electronic Music Alliance (EMA)

    Protecting people, planet, parties

    Event Safety Alliance (ESA) Guidebook

    This was a very brief summary of some of the top tips we have for organizers when planning an event. These should not be looked at as standards. We highly recommend that all event organizers take the time to buy, read, and disseminate to production staff the Event Safety Alliance Guidebook. This guidebook delves further into deeper planning, especially for larger events. Please visit the ESA website to acquire your book.


    For the last 8 years, EMA has been working with ESA and ESTA on actual industry standards for the event industry. Several have been published and several are still in process.


    Social Media and Messaging Guide for Organizers + Attendee Ambassadors

    Earlier this year we released a Social Media guide to help Amplify health and safety messages.

    Fire Safety

    Specific fire safety tips were just released by Party Fire Safety in both text and a video. We encourage you to watch their PSA.

    Attendee Safety

    Read the great article Joseph Pred wrote from the perspective of an attendee. What you should watch out for, and what you should do.


    Please check out our main website for more health and safety information at www.ema-global.org


    We are a non-profit and global membership alliance of dance music fans, artists,

    and industry idealists.


    We encourage our community to be the "Sound of Change."


    We organize around issues important to our community like health, safety, greening, and giving back to our local communities through charitable works. We work to educate our community about these issues and create programs that offer fun & effective solutions.

  • Party Fire Safety PSA

    Good tips for organizers and attendees

    Watch this video to keep your parties and friends safe

    For more information please visit their website

  • Contact Us

    Have questions? Email us.

  • Originally created in 2014, the main contributors to this tip guide were Janine Jordan and Terry Gotham.

    Janine Jordan

    Original contributor and updated version

    Janine, held office for two years as a Neighborhood Council member for Mid-town North Hollywood.

    She has been part of the dance music scene since 1999.

    Extensively toured dance music clubs and festivals worldwide in the company of a global dance act from 2007-2016.

    She is the current Executive Director and has run the

    Electronic Music Alliance since 2010.


    Terry Gotham

    Contributed to the original document in 2014

    As the former PR chair of New York's chapter of DanceSafe, Terry Gotham has tested drugs, provided harm reduction services, coordinated crisis intervention teams at large-scale warehouse & club parties, and lectured on these topics in the USA, Canada & the Netherlands for the last several years.


    Twitter & Instagram using @terrygotham for more harm reduction insights and editorials at www.terrygotham.com