Ask Angela: Pumpkin patches in a COVID-19 world

Angela Phillips is a Senior Account Manager III at ZTERS Site Solutions. She helps customers with some of their most challenging site service issues, and she answers your questions here on our website.

Dear Angela, Pumpkin patches and haunted houses are allowed in our area. We usually host a pumpkin patch in our building’s parking lot, and we want to have one again this year. How should we plan for things to be different in light of COVID-19?

Hey, there. This is a great question for fall. Even in a “regular” year we see a huge increase in demand for portable toilets and hand sanitizer dispensers for fall festivals, pumpkin patches, and haunted houses. There will be fewer festivals this year, but we’re still seeing demand for extra porta potties and especially hand washing stations.

Each municipality has their own recommendations and regulations (and whether or not they’re allowing events to occur at all). In places where outdoor fall events are taking place, it’s likely you’re going to need more portable toilets, hand washing stations, and standalone hand sanitizer dispensers to keep people washing their hands often and thoroughly. And don’t forget to maintain social distancing! Follow your local guidelines.

Here is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s list of considerations for events. It sounds like you’ll have a small, local community event, so take a look at their recommendations for things like wearing masks, maintaining six feet of distance between people, and providing adequate facilities for hand washing.

If your event is small, and you’ve never ordered portable toilets before, you may want to consider ordering one or two to supplement any indoor bathroom facilities. It depends on whether you’re expecting a lot of people and whether there’s enough room for people to social distance in the available facilities.

Also consider ordering extra hand sanitizer dispensers, and make sure you have plenty of refills available! In a usual year, festivals and haunted houses would have ordered porta potties and hand washing stations at least a few weeks in advance. In fact, they’re often ordered as early as August, depending on the area. This year, with fewer events, you may still be able to put an order in, even as late as mid-October. It really depends on your area and how many events are going on near you.

Any time you’re hosting an outdoor event, give us a call as early as possible to make sure you get the best selection of porta potties, fencing, hand washing stations, and any other site services you’ll need. This year may be different, but late October all the way through December is usually a peak time for toilet and fencing rentals. After Halloween and pumpkin patch season, Christmas tree lots sprout up and people need a lot of porta potties, office trailers, fencing, and storage containers. We like to get people scheduled early so they don’t miss out.

Hope that helps. Stay safe, and have a good pumpkin patch!

5 Reasons You Need an Event Portable Toilet

You’re planning an outdoor event. You found the space, arranged for parking, got the permits, and ordered the food. You even remembered to send out invites! But what’s arguably the most important rental you need to schedule? Portable toilets. Believe it or not, planners do forget about the toilets. And last-minute scrambling to find outdoor event restrooms can be a very costly mistake between rush fees and extra stress. Event portable toilets shouldn’t be an afterthought. No matter how large or small the gathering, here are five reasons you need portable toilets at your next outdoor event.  

Attendee comfort

No event can survive without a toilet nearby. Preferably more than one. Restrooms are critical for attendee comfort (especially if there’s an open bar!). The type of event portable toilet you choose will also affect attendee comfort. A basic porta potty is perfect for events like fun runs and festivals where many porta potties will be lined up along the course. For upscale events, luxury portable toilets and restroom trailers will add to guest comfort. 

Imagine having an outdoor wedding in the heat and humidity of summer. Wouldn’t guests prefer a climate-controlled restroom trailer instead of a standard portable toilet? There are many types of event portable toilets. Choose the options that maximize guest comfort.

Municipal regulations

What is required to meet local regulations? Most municipalities require portable toilets at outdoor events, and they have to be placed in certain locations. There are also permits and servicing guidelines to follow. This varies by location, but fun runs, carnivals, fairs, outdoor theater gatherings, and other events all trigger restroom requirements. Here’s an example of one city code, and it includes things like:

  • Permit requirements and allowable locations
  • How long the toilet can be left outdoors (typically 4-7 days)
  • How often it has to be serviced
  • Penalties for not complying

Some municipalities require a service person to be on site during the event, so event planners need to ensure they’re familiar with and following all municipal regulations. Contact the local permitting office as soon as possible in the planning process to make sure all requirements are met well before the event. 

Event portable toilet best practices

How many toilets are needed? Believe it or not, there’s a formula for that. The American Restroom Association published a set of guidelines to determine how many toilets are required for most outdoor events. Here are the highlights:

  • Most events require at least one toilet for every 300 people. (Expect long lines in that open bar scenario! We suggest one toilet for every 30 to 50 people for maximum comfort.)
  • Events with primarily women and children require at least one toilet for every 200 people. (Parents can empathize, right? But again, that’s probably not enough toilets for a wedding or smaller event.)
  • Events with adults drinking alcoholic beverages require at least one toilet for every 240 people. (Imagine waiting in line behind 239 people, though.)

These are only guidelines. Depending on the event, it’s a good idea to provide more than the suggested number of toilets. If the budget is tight, it’s probably fine to go with the minimum suggested number. But never provide less than the suggested amount (or no toilet at all). That’s a recipe for bathroom disaster.  

Reduce the risk of infection 

We’re living in a time where a pandemic shut down the world. Suffice it to say, the more hand washing stations, the better. Yes, it’s possible to rent additional hand sanitizing stations for outdoor events. It’s also possible to rent restroom trailers with running water and flushing toilets, if water hookups are available. And for multi-day events, it’s possible to request additional sanitizing services.

For more information about hand washing station requirements during a global pandemic (and really, it’s good advice in general), refer to the CDC’s website. Always provide adequate hand washing stations and hand sanitizer to help lower the risk of infection. Read the latest rules and best practices before finalizing the event planning.   

Keep things clean!

Let’s be real. Providing at least one portable toilet at an outdoor event will prevent people from going rogue. (No one wants to see their guests “watering the plants” after too many drinks at the bar.) Renting event portable toilets isn’t only about guest comfort. It’s also about keeping the outdoor space clean.

The location should be left in the same condition it was in when guests arrived. Portable toilets, along with proper garbage disposal, helps keep the area from getting trashed during the event. This protects the environment. And it prevents disputes with residents who have to live with the clean-up when the event ends.  

Event portable toilets are easy to rent, and they can make or break guest comfort. Give us a call to have an account manager help schedule the right type and number of portable toilets for your next event.