Whether you’re up to your knees in muddy boots at Glastonbury or drinking and dancing at the Reading Festival, there are some health hazards which should be avoided. Summer music festivals are one of the highlights of the summer calendar for many students: here is how to make your experience safe and enjoyable.
1 – Look after your feet
We’ve all seen images in the media of festival-goers up to their knees in mud. Music festivals can take their toll on your feet. It’s really important to try and keep your feet clean and dry to prevent problems such as athlete’s foot (fungal infection), blistering and trench foot. Trench foot develops after prolonged exposure to the cold and the wet. The best way to prevent this is to keep your feet dry and not sleep in your shoes.
Welly boots might be unfashionable this season, but they are much better than the alternative…
2 – Armpit odour shouldn’t be your only personal hygiene concern
Personal hygiene is not the easiest of things to maintain on the festival campsite: they aren’t renowned for the en-suite facilities… However there are some good reasons to try and keep yourself as clean as possible. Aside from dreaded body odour there are risks of picking up and spreading germs that cause sickness and diarrhoea. The best way to avoid this is to make sure you wash your hands before you eat and after you go to the toilet. Fresh water supplies are not always easy to come by so it’s worth packing some antibacterial hand gel or wet wipes so that you can clean your hands.
3 – Pack a few health essentials
If you take any regular prescribed medication make sure that you take these with you and also keep it on you – tents do get lost and stolen. It’s well worth having a small first-aid kit which contains some plasters and disinfectant and also medication is for headaches upset stomach and sunburn. If you suffer from any cuts or injuries then wash them with clean water. If you think it looks infected get some help from the on-site first aid station.
4 – Be aware the sun
If you’re lucky enough to have a sunny weekend for your festival remember to apply suncream with a minimum factor of 15. You should apply this regularly to give you the best protection from harmful UVA and UVB rays. If you do suffer from sunburn remember to apply and after sun lotion to serve the area. Remember to keep your body as well covered as possible in the middle of the day and wear sunglasses to protect your eyes.
5 – But watch out for the cold…
Although it is summer, the Great British weather is never reliable and people can get hypothermia at festivals, particularly when the temperature drops at night. This is especially true if your clothes are wet from damp or when it’s raining. Pack some waterproofs and warm clothing.
6 – Take care of your ears
Music festivals are loud. If you’re planning on standing close to the speakers then you should consider wearing ear plugs and take regular breaks from the loud music to give your ears a rest. Its quite common to get tinnitus (a ringing or buzzing noise in the ears) and this will usually settle in a day or two. Wearing a pair of earplugs might also make sleeping a little easier.
Warning: if you expose your ears to very loud noise you are at risk of developing permanent hearing loss or tinnitus. Unfortunately there is no treatment.
7 – Drink plenty (of water)
Make sure you drinking plenty of water for the entire festival. It’s worth having a bottle of water with you at all times. Some festivals provide free water so make sure you grab this. Full days of dancing combined with heat and alcohol can quickly dehydrate you. Typical adult will require somewhere between 2 to 3 litres of fluid per day. Remember that this might be higher if you’ve been sweating a lot or the weather is particularly hot.
8 – But not too much alcohol
If you’re planning on drinking alcohol drink sensibly and stick to the recommended limits. The current recommendation is that men and women should not drink more than 3 to 4 units per day. Additionally alcohol can dehydrate you to make sure that you’re drinking plenty of water to ensure that you don’t get a nasty hangover.
9 – Reduce your risk if you’re using drugs
Drugs are something that are hard to avoid at festivals. If you’re thinking of using drugs then it could be risky as taking drugs in the new place with large crowds could result in you end up feeling stressed and lost. Try not to mix drinks and drugs as it could make you feel unwell. If you usually are regularly used drugs try not to take more than you’re used to. Remember nobody knows exactly what’s in drugs or how strong they are. This is also true for so-called legal highs.
10 – Flames, fumes and fireworks deserve your respect
You might be content with buying your food from the on-site food tents. However if you’re planning on using camping gas or barbecue then treat them with respect.
Camping gas accidents are the most common cause of serious burns at festivals. If you need to change a gas canister do it well away from the tent. Make sure that your gas canister is probably threaded it to the cooker before lighting it. There are documented cases of people being seriously injured in explosions.
If you going to be using a barbecue make sure that you will use this well away from your tent. They have been reported cases of people dying from carbon monoxide poisoning when they’ve left a smouldering barbeque close by the tent when sleeping or moved it inside the tent. You should try to put your barbecue out and move it well away from any areas people are sleeping.
If you going to be using flares or fireworks please only buy these from authorised dealers. Illegal flares can spit and cause of wax parents.
11 – Wrap it up
You don’t need just to tell you that having sex without a condom increases the chance of pregnancy and catching a sexually-transmitted infection (STI). Remember that many festivals will have emergency contraception and sexual health advice on site at the medical tent. If you have unprotected sex and need emergency contraception the sooner you can emergency contraception, the more effective it will be.
12 – Look out for each other
Mobile phone reception isn’t always brilliant in the middle of a field so have a meeting point planned with your mates, should you get lost.
Remember to enjoy yourself and if you do suffer any ailments or health issues then go to the first aid/medical station.