Acting as a custom mascot can be a fun and rewarding experience, but can also be a challenging and tiring experience that puts performers at risk of various issues ranging from injuries to heat exhaustion. However, simply by following basic safety precautions, you can protect your performers and allow them to have an enjoyable, comfortable experience while in costume.
1. Make Smart Costume Decisions
You need to think carefully about the actual design of the mascot when designing your custom mascot costume. It is always best to avoid long tails, excessive material and other features which may be trip hazards or make it difficult for the performer to move around. Also, avoid pieces within the costume that could cause injuries should the performer fall.
2. Perform with an Escort
Mascots have significantly restricted vision and mobility, making even the simplest tasks, such as climbing stairs and walking near traffic, dangerous. The best solution is for mascots to always be accompanied by an escort, who should be responsible for explaining what is happening outside of the mascot’s field of vision, guiding the mascot, and protecting the performer from overly enthusiastic fans. The escort will also act as the character’s voice, and will respond verbally to the character’s gestures as they interact with the audience.
3. Practice Before the Performance
The mascot should run through the routine first out of costume and then in costume before the event. Difficult movements like walking on stairs with the mascot feet on should also be practiced well ahead of time. At this time, it is also very important to rehearse signals that will enable the mascot to communicate with their escort.
4. Avoid Overheating
Including features such as a fan or cooling vest inside your custom mascot can help performers stay cooler, provided that this equipment does not add too much additional weight to the costume. Performers can also keep cool by wearing light, loose-fitting clothes. We recommend that the performer wear a t-shirt or tank top, a bandana or headband to keep hair back, and shorts or tights. Avoid sweatpants, trousers, long sleeved shirts or any other bulky clothing. The escort should always be on the lookout for signs that the mascot is suffering from any discomfort inside the costume.
5. Take Regular Breaks
The performer should typically spend 30 minutes, and never more than one hour, in costume before taking a break for anywhere between 15 minutes to half an hour. In hot temperatures, reduce performance times further and increase the length of breaks. Remember to drink plenty of water during break times to stay hydrated.
6. Keep the Costume Clean
Performers become hot and sweaty inside the mascot. To avoid the spread of bacteria and mold, air dry the costume completely before you store it or wash the costume. If you see mold within your mascot costume, do not wear it and contact your mascot costume manufacturer.
7. Choose the Right Performer
If you are looking to hire a new performer to be a mascot, you must bear in mind that not just anyone is suitable for this type of work. When considering someone who has never worked as a mascot before, you should be willing to have a trial run before the event. If the performer is not completely comfortable being in the costume, you need to find someone else. In addition to being comfortable as a mascot, your performer absolutely must have the right energy to perform effectively. This includes being able to make big gestures, convey emotions through the costume, and interact well with children. Remember, performers can be coached to improve their mascot acting skills!