ASSE: Safe Parading Requires Planning, No Stallions

Noting that midsummer parades, especially the Fourth of July parade, have grown in size and popularity in towns and communities countrywide, the American Society of Safety Engineers thought now is a prime time to offer some safety tips and suggestions for pulling off such events without any harmful incidents.

In a recent article for ASSE’s Council on Practices and Standards’ Public Sector Practice Specialty newsletter titled “Parade Safety”, ASSE Minnesota-based member Greg Langan, CSP, ARM, CPCU, Loss Control Director, Public Entity and Scholastic Division, Managing Director, Loss Control Practice Group for Arthur J. Gallagher Risk Management Services Inc., outlined key suggestions aimed at enhancing parade safety. He said that when addressing safety one must take into account the fact that on parade day the streets are lined with people two or three deep with children ready to dash out and collect candy as floats pass, and there are a number of parade participants such as bands, animals, floats, and others to consider. These pose several risks to be addressed in the planning stages to ensure the parade will be a fun and enjoyable experience. ASSE also suggests city and town officials turn to their staff occupational safety and health professional for additional guidance.

To ensure the parade is a fun event, Langan suggests a Parade Safety Manual be developed with a focus on eight major areas: 1) theme and entries; 2) speed and separation of parade entries; 3) float size and construction; 4) role and conduct of persons engaged in the parade; 5) equestrian and livestock entries; 6) role of parade marshals in managing spectators; and, 7) the parade route and street barricades.

As for the parade theme and entries, key consideration should be on limiting motor vehicles per entry; allowing livestock, reptiles, and other animals in the parade only after receiving specific written approval by the parade committee; not allowing the discharge of fireworks or firearms; not permitting entries that produce loud noises; and monitoring amplification systems.

It is recommended that a parade be an “all forward motion” parade with planned distances between parade entries, and that there be no stopping along the parade route.

Where floats are involved, it is suggested that there be a maximum size allowed; that the speed of motorized vehicles be limited to 10 mph; and that they be inspected for mechanical fitness and properly serviced before the parade. Other issues that should be addressed involving parade floats include driver vision, float seating, decorative materials, electrical lights, portable fire extinguishers, electrical wiring, inspections, portable generators, and having sufficient fuel and power to finish the parade route.

When it comes to the role and conduct of people in the parade, it is suggested that no one be permitted on the floats who is not noted on the entry form and that a minimum of two participants (designated as safety monitors), other than the driver, be required for each float. The safety monitors may not ride on the float but rather must walk alongside it. Each safety monitor should wear a fluorescent safety vest for visibility along the parade route and should not hand out candy or giveaway items on the parade route.

Other suggestions include not throwing items from the float or vehicle in the parade; that participants not jump onto or off any float or moving vehicle; all children on floats be supervised by an adult and no one under five be permitted on any float; a maximum of 12 walkers accompany a float; that all parade float/motor vehicle operators be screened for blood alcohol levels immediately before the start of the parade; that parade participants on bikes, skates, or other wheeled equipment be restricted from weaving or swerving toward the crowd to avoid losing control; and that a safety meeting be held with the float staff prior to the parade.

It is also suggested that parade planners address equestrian and livestock issues, consider not allowing stallions to be part of the parade, and that all entrants provide for waste removal.

Parade marshals are considered a key component of the parade and should undergo a criminal record background check. It is suggested that they be responsible for summoning medical assistance if needed and to separate crowds and clear intersections for responding emergency vehicles along with several other key responsibilities.

Other parade safety considerations to address include spectator safety, barricade placements, parade zones, and more when it comes to parade routes. It is suggested that the police department determine barricade placement before the start of the parade. In addition, Langan suggests:

  • There be only one motor vehicle per entry, with the exception of car and motorcycle clubs, which may have up to four motor vehicles per entry.
  • Marching groups should be limited to no more than 50 participants.
  • Performing groups should choreograph routines that maintain the pace of the forward moving parade.
  • A distance of two on-road white “skip-lines” should be maintained between parade entries.
  • Be prepared. Identify the hazards; plan your strategy should an unexpected event occur; know the location of fire extinguishers and how to shut off the generator and other electrical equipment; and identify a way to alert a driver to stop a parade float if needed.

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