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Summer stage collapses raise questions about safety

Sana Ahmed, staff writer
August 19, 2011 — There have been four stage collapses this summer.

The damaged stage at Ottawa's Bluesfest
The damaged stage at Ottawa's Bluesfest

Just four days after the stage collapse at Indiana’s State Fair, another stage was blown down during an outdoor concert. This time, the incident occurred in Hasselt, Belgium during a severe storm Thursday. In both cases, several people died and dozens were injured.

There have been at least two other similar incidents around the world this summer. A stage collapsed in Tulsa, Oklahoma this year, but no injuries were reported. And at Ottawa’s Bluesfest in July, the main stage collapsed injuring several people. One common thread has been the weather.

“In summer severe weather, the winds can pick up in a matter of seconds to minutes,” says Dayna Vettese, a meteorologist at The Weather Network.“Especially, in a downburst situation those winds come down very quickly and there’s not a lot of warning for that to happen. So, it can be on you in a second and you wouldn’t even know it was coming, whereas tornadoes can be long-lived wind damage events.”

Going to outdoor events such as concerts and festivals is part of most people’s summer routine. Experts say it’s advisable to know your surroundings and be prepared for the worst case scenario, which includes knowing the weather forecast. It’s important to remain calm, help any injured or trapped people as safely as possible. It’s also beneficial to know first aid.

It’s clear that weather plays a significant role at outdoor events during the summer. Organizers try to have active weather plans in place, but it’s crucial that people are also prepared for unexpected extreme weather.

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