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September 30, 2020Best In Tents

As you know, at American Tent we are always eager to learn more about tent safety! As you probably ALSO know, Pete McVey is the absolute authority on this subject for our industry. We met with him recently to chat about best uses and safe practices for our tents here from American Tent. Here’s what he had to say about securing a tent in inclement weather. Keep reading!

Q: What to know about weather conditions when setting up a tent and using it

A: Don't fool with mother nature. That's the first rule. Always be aware of your surroundings, be aware of the weather, and lastly, don't ever think that just because today is a beautiful 70-degree day, that tomorrow won't be tornadoes, and wind storms, and hail. You have to prepare for the worst at all times.

What that means as far as tents go is to do proper staking, to make sure that your tent tops are tight, that any loose fabric is battened down, make sure that when you leave the tent site and the tent is installed that everything is secure as if there was a major storm on the horizon.

Q: What about how to secure a tent in high winds?

A: Wind can be a friend of a tent guy and it can be an enemy of a tent guy. On the enemy side of it, the wind will do a lot of destruction.

Our industry has been blessed with a lot of studies regarding wind and we've come to the conclusion that right around 38 miles an hour is when you want to discontinue the use of a tent.

That doesn't mean that the tent's going to blow down at 38 miles an hour but it gets you into a safe haven before the wind blows so the phrase that is commonly used it's not how hard the wind blows, it's what the wind blows that you need to be aware of.

Tent safety guide

Q: Setting up a tent in snow: What do we need to know?

A: The biggest thing is most tents are not snow load rated. In other words, they will not accept a significant load on the roof of the tent.

What that means is you have two options: keep the tent heated minimally, say 40 degrees, 24/7 or you have somebody on watch with a snow rake to rake the snow off of the tent. If you keep it heated at 40, it's about 70 or 80 degrees up at the top, it'll keep the snow melting off.

If you can't afford, or don't want to, or don't need to heat it then you're going to be faced with somebody that has to be on snow watch and then just break the snow off. And of course, no lawn rakes, use a snow rake with no tine metal scraping.

Q: Can you tell us how to protect a tent in a thunderstorm and lightning?

A: Treat it as if you are out in the open. Most events like big rock and roll festivals, sporting events, football stadiums, they are generally evacuating their event at 6 miles out for lightning. Anytime you have lightning within your area, whether you're under a tent or out in the open 6 miles, you need to get to a safe haven.

Safe tent setup

Q: Should you take the tent sidewalls off in heavy winds?

A: As the wind hits a tent, it will do different things, sidewall on or sidewall off. The safest thing for the integrity of the attempt is to let the wind blow through. In other words, take the sidewall off.

You can imagine if you have tables set up with china, and linens, and floral, that's probably not too practical so the second option is to make sure that everything is tight and that the sidewall is tight to the ground that it can't flap. That way it'll allow the wind to hit the sidewall and go up over the tent. But in prolonged wind storms, if you can't take the tent down or abandon the tent - sidewall off, let the wind blow through.


We hope this guide on tent safety during inclement weather was of great help for you. What else can we say? Don't believe your weather, man. Follow our simple rules and stay safe in your event tent! And if you need a tent for your event, we at American Tent are always happy to offer you the best products to meet any of your needs.

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