Heat Stroke Is a Matter of Life and Death for Mascots

When we speak of mascot safety here at The National Mascot Association, it’s important to understand what is at stake.  Our focus on safety is not just about avoiding the bruised shin or elbow.  Mascot safety can sometimes mean life or death.

In July of 2019, a mascot performer in Japan collapsed and died from heat stroke while rehearsing a dance outside at 7:30 pm for 20 minutes.  The  recorded temperature when the performer collapsed and died was 28.7°C, which translates to 84°F.  His mascot costume weighed 15 kg, about 35 lbs.

It’s important to give some more context to the circumstances around this unfortunate accident.  The rehearsal did not start until 7:30 pm in the evening.  Sunset had already occurred at 6:49 pm.  Direct sunlight can drastically increase the temperature inside a costume. However, there was not the aggravating effect of direct sunlight on the performer.

84°F, however, is a much higher temperature than on average in Japan for July.  The average July high in Japan is about 68°F.  An almost 25% hotter than average temperature was experienced that day.  This would suggest the performer was likely not acclimated to the heat.  Our bodies need limited exposure to drastic heat temperature increases to allow the body to acclimate and maintain homeostasis.

And a 35 lbs mascot costume is a heavy costume.  Mascot designers and fabricators strive to keep the overall weight as low as possible, often below 20 pounds.  The weight was likely an additional strain on the performer.

The drastic heat temperature increase, lack of acclimatization, and heavy weight of the costume appear to have been compounding factors that led to fatal heat stroke.  But these factors can and should have been considered that day.  It only took 20 minutes for tragedy to strike!

What are the lessons from this horrible event?  Are there protocols in place with your mascot performers to reduce the risk of heat stroke?  Do your performers feel empowered to take a break when they feel they need one?  Can performances and events with your mascot be altered, shortened or even cancelled when the risk of heat stroke is high?

Consider joining the National Mascot Association in common cause for performer safety.  Adopting our voluntary safety guidelines send a powerful and positive message that the well being of your performers and fans is a top priority.

Japan Today, Aug 6, 2019: https://japantoday.com/category/features/kuchikomi/searching-for-ways-to-keep-performing-mascots-from-wilting-in-the-heat
Independent(U.K.), July 31, 2019: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/japan-heatwave-deaths-amusement-park-mascot-yohei-yamaguchi-a9028651.html
The Asahi Shimbun, July 31, 2019: http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201907300030.html


Exciting Things for 2020!

We here at the National Mascot Association are excited for 2020!  Our primary mission is to promote safety for both mascot performers and the fans with whom they interact.  As we close out 2019, we are finalizing our Mascot Safety Guidelines into a standard of conduct we hope that organizations and their performers will agree is in everyone’s best interest for safety.

With this simple set of guidelines, our next step is to reach out to the mascot community at large.  We want to see sports organizations, school athletic departments, and other groups that utilize mascots regularly adopt these guidelines.  It is an important step in creating a culture of safety for both the performers and the fans.

In 2020, we will be launching our Membership Campaign. Both mascot performers and organizations will be eligible for membership.  Stay tuned here on our website and on Facebook for more information on how to join!

The essential criterium for organizations to join is simple:  adopt our Mascot Safety Guidelines!

Organizations that voluntarily adopt our guidelines will be eligible to join the National Mascot Association.  It will serve as a public sign of commitment that the organization holds performer and fan safety as a top priority.  Performers will appreciate the pledge to safety, and fans will know that the organization is looking out for them and the mascot!

In the meantime, between now and 2020, feel free to contact us for more information.  We can’t wait to get everyone on board with better safety!