Summer is quickly approaching. It is not uncommon for the temperature in our area to reach the upper 90’s with heat index above 100, approaching 110. These temperatures are dangerous. It is easy for people to suffer from heat illness quickly. This is especially true for the elderly, people with chronic illness and the very young. Even if they are simply sitting outdoors in the sun for the duration of a typical wedding ceremony, 20-30 minutes, they can quickly get ill.
Remember your vendors are also working. They are carrying heavy food trays, setting up tables, chairs and other needed equipment in this heat. Their health and well-being is in your hands in many ways on these hot days.
This brings us to the big question. When is it too hot to have an outdoor wedding?
There is more to consider than just the outside temperature. We have to consider the humidity which increases the heat index. The heat index is set for shady conditions with a light breeze. If you are in direct sun (large open meadow/field) on a still summer day, you will need to add as much as 15 degrees to that reading!
NOAA has published this chart to help people understand the relationship of humidity to temperature for a heat index.
How to read the chart…Follow the temperature line until it intersects the relative humidity line. Then read the Heat Index on the curved line. For example, an air temperature of 100°F and Relative Humidity of 40%. Follow the 100°F temperature line until it intersects the 40% relative humidity line. Then curved line that also intersects is the Heat Index of 110°F, or Very Hot. That is the temperature the body thinks it is and attempts to compensate for that level of heat. Remember, these values are in the SHADE. You can add up to 15°F to these values if you are in direct sunlight.
According to OSHA these are the levels and the measures you should take on a work site. Remember your wedding is a worksite (for your vendors) as well as a party for your guests.
|Heat Index||Risk Level||Protective Measures|
|Less than 91°F||Lower (Caution)||Basic heat safety and planning|
|91°F to 103°F||Moderate||Implement precautions and heighten awareness|
|103°F to 115°F||High||Additional precautions to protect workers|
|Greater than 115°F||Very High to Extreme||Triggers even more aggressive protective measures|
Important consideration: NOAA devised the heat index values for shaded conditions and light winds. Full sunshine can increase heat index values by up to 15° Fahrenheit. Strenuous work and the use of heavy or specialized protective clothing also have an additive effect. As a result, the risk at a specific heat index could be higher than that listed in the table above if the work is in direct sunlight without a light breeze, or if work involves strenuous tasks or the use of heavy or specialized protective clothing. Extra measures, including implementing precautions at the next risk level, are necessary under these circumstances.
What happens to someone who is made sick by the heat? Heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke are dangerous conditions. What Are the Symptoms of Heat-Related Illnesses? According to WebMD these are the symptoms of the different heat illnesses.
Heat cramp symptoms can include:
- Severe, sometimes disabling, cramps that typically begin suddenly in the hands, calves, or feet
- Hard, tense muscles
- Heat exhaustion symptoms can include:
- Excessive thirst
- Muscle aches and cramps
- Confusion or anxiety
- Drenching sweats, often accompanied by cold, clammy skin
- Slowed or weakened heartbeat
Heat exhaustion requires immediate attention.
Heat stroke symptoms can include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Hot, flushed, dry skin
- Rapid heart rate
- Decreased sweating
- Shortness of breath
- Decreased urination
- Blood in urine or stool
- Increased body temperature (104 degrees to 106 degrees F)
- Confusion, delirium, or loss of consciousness
Heat stroke can occur suddenly, without any symptoms of heat exhaustion. If a person is experiencing any symptoms of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, GET MEDICAL CARE IMMEDIATELY. Any delay could be fatal. Seek emergency medical care for anyone who has been in the heat and who has the following symptoms:
- Confusion, anxiety, or loss of consciousness
- Very rapid or dramatically slowed heartbeat
- Rapid rise in body temperature that reaches 104 degrees to 106 degrees F
- Either drenching sweats accompanied by cold, clammy skin (which may indicate heat exhaustion) or a marked decrease in sweating accompanied by hot, flushed, dry skin (which may indicate heat stroke)
- Any other heat-related symptom that is not alleviated by moving to a shady or air-conditioned area and administering fluids and salt
So, armed with this information what are your options. When the heat index is lower (caution) to the lower side of moderate be sure to provide guests with lots of icy cold water to drink during your ceremony. Allow guests to gather and mingle in cool indoor facilities until the very last minute before the ceremony. Keep the ceremony as short as possible. Allow members of the bridal party to remove jackets and other extra clothing in order to remain comfortable and safe. Have fans available to the guest to use to move air past them to help cool them. Consider the number of elderly guests, those with chronic illnesses and young infants and possibly move the ceremony indoors to protect them. You can still get plenty of beautiful photos of the location afterwards.
Provide your vendors with plenty of water and allow extra time for set up so they can take breaks and go to cooler areas to protect themselves.
When the heat index enters the high side of moderate and above, give serious consideration to moving the ceremony indoors if at all possible. If you do not have an air conditioned facility available, but have a barn with large fans, that is better than a large sunny field. You will want to plan ahead and have some industrial fans around to move the air and provide a bit of comfort. Understand if you have quests who can’t tolerate the heat and must stay at home or at the local hotel. Don’t let their decision to protect their health hurt your feelings.
We advise planning ahead as you plan your wedding. Learn what is the average temperature for the week you are getting married, what is the humidity level for your location, what options you have for hot weather issues. Make your decision based not only on your dreams of the perfect outdoor wedding but also on the safety of your guests, wedding party and vendors.
Don’t let this be what your guests remember about your wedding day!
Give us a call 336-937-0890 or email us at info@TriadWeddingOfficiant.com to learn more about how we can help you have the ceremony of your dreams while protecting your guests. Visit our Planning Resources pages for additional information.