Feature Article - January 2006
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Festival Fundamentals

Six habits of highly effective special events

By Stacy St. Clair

Potty matters

Nothing makes a festival stink—literally and figuratively—more than unclean, overtaxed restroom facilities.

In fact, it's such an important health issue that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has crafted guidelines on portable restrooms and handwashing stations.

The suggestions are neither federal policy nor do they override local codes. They're a good barometer, however, to see whether you're toilets are meeting your patrons' health needs and expectations.

If those aren't reasons enough, consider this:

Studies show women leave special events early—and take their children with them—rather than use unseemly restrooms. In doing so, they take their money and the event's attendance rates with them.

Even in cases where portable restrooms are well-kept, there may not be enough. If people are waiting in lines, it means they're not enjoying themselves or spending money at your event.

Here are some FEMA tips to remember when using portable toilets at your festival:

  • The restrooms should be well-marked and lit.
  • Service, including pump outs, should be done on a 24-hour schedule.
  • Locate them away from food service and anchor them to prevent tipping.
  • Provide for the safe disposal of needles, syringes and other sharp items.

FEMA also provides information on how to calculate the number of portable toilets necessary. For more information, visit www.fema.gov.