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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Stay safe at summer festivals with these five quick tips

Sydney Richardson

Festivals offer numerous health risks, from overheating to substance abuse.

Last weekend, Arizona hosted two music festivals of epic proportions. It seems that Arizona is becoming a new hub for incredibly populus music festivals. While desert raves have been in the state for decades, only in recent years have they expanded from the underground music scene and become huge commercial enterprises. This lends a certain air of approachability for those not necessarily inclined to headbang for an entire weekend. However, the more cautious of us—watching from our Snapchat stories—are still left wondering “how can I feel safe and comfortable in such a massive crowd?”

In 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracked illness and death at an electronic dance music festival in New York. Over the three-day weekend, 22 people experienced “adverse events,” two of which were fatal. This should be a concern for prospective patrons and organizers alike.

Adverse events aren’t fun for anyone, so here are five tips to stay safe and comfortable at music festivals.

1. Cover up

In Florence earier this month, temperatures at Country Thunder reached well over 90 degrees. Dancing in this kind of weather alone holds a certain amount of risk. However, with several thousand people in every direction, the heat is pushed to an even further extreme. So how does one stay cool under such conditions?

“Cover up from the sun,” said Lee Ann Hamilton, assistant director of Health Promotion-Preventative Services at Campus Health. “Using an umbrella, using a wide-brimmed hat, using your clothing, using anything to avoid direct sun exposure will help protect you.” So whether it’s for Country Thunder or even Coachella, don’t forget to bring your cowboy hat.

RELATED: From sunburn to skin cancer: facts for the sunshine season

2. Stay hydrated  

Dehydration is the main health concern for music festivals in Arizona. In fact, concerts can be a culmination of dangerous dehydrating factors. 

“Avoid caffeinated and alcoholic drinks,” Hamilton said. 

Alcohol, caffeine and nicotine are all diuretics, meaning they cause your body to get rid of water. So how does one know if they’re drinking enough water? The answer may reside in an unexpected place. 

“The real gauge is that your urine should be clear,” Hamilton said. “If your urine is yellow or dark yellow, you’re way past dehydrated.” 

While it may be difficult to get a good look into the Porta Potty, urine color is the only real way to know if you’re staying well hydrated. So next time it may be a smart idea to bring the gallon jug rather than your 20 oz. Hydro Flask. 

RELATED: Arizona researchers investigate interdisciplinary health

3. Know the signs

In order for music festivals to legally operate, organizers must abide by sets of restrictions from city or county governments. 

While each has its own restrictions, nearly all of them require a medical tent or service area. The issue is that attendees often don’t realize they need medical attention before it’s too late. So how does one know when they need to find help?

“The usual early symptoms for heat reactions are if people are cold, clammy, pale or experiencing stomach cramps,” Hamilton said. 

People with these symptoms need to rehydrate and get to a cool place. 

“The serious stuff is pending heat stroke,” Hamilton said. “People get dry, red and hot to the touch. If that’s happening, then they need immediate care.” 

Hundreds of people are hospitalized for heat-related illnesses in Arizona every year. Recognizing symptoms early could make the difference between life and death. 

4. Party responsibly

In the New York CDC case study, 95 percent of those hospitalized were intoxicated in some sort or another. However, intoxication and music festivals will always go hand in hand. So how do you stay safe if you aren’t quite straight edge? 

“If you are going to drink, you should alternate. For every alcoholic drink, have a non-alcoholic drink,” Hamilton said. 

She also emphasized staying in the “sweet spot.” Chemically, the sweet spot is a blood alcohol content of about 0.05. For the average male, this means about two standard drinks every hour. For females, one drink every hour. Also don’t fool yourself, a 40 is not a standard drink. 

5. Have a plan 

For some, just the thought of losing your friends, getting heat stroke or experiencing alcohol poisoning can cause anxiety. For others, it’s the thought of waking up for school on the morning after a molly-induced hula hooping marathon that causes their apprehension. So how does one get through it all? 

“It’s all about having a plan and sticking to it,” Hamilton said. “You can have fun, just stay in the sweet spot.” 

By planning out where you’re going to go, what you’re going to do and how you’re going to stay comfortable, you can have a truly memorable experience. And most importantly, know your limits and enjoy in moderation. 

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