With a summer of festivals and outdoor events ahead of us, it is easy to forget how much pressure avoidable, festival-related health problems add to local NHS services.
If you want to be a responsible and healthy festival goer, follow these 9 top tips:
1. Most festivals run some form of medical centre, and one of the first things you should do is make sure you know where it is
2. Drink plenty of non-alcoholic liquids, especially in current hot, dry conditions and even if it is pouring with rain. It’s so easy to forget to drink enough, especially in queues and during live performances. If you feel dizzy or your urine is dark, those are signs that you need to take on more liquid. Go easy on the booze. Alcohol not only interferes with your senses but also contributes to dehydration.
3. Eat properly. Even though festivals are fun they do put additional strain on our bodies, so it is essential to ensure that we keep ourselves well fuelled with a balanced diet. If you are buying food from stalls at festivals make sure they display the appropriate food safety certification and if you’re not sure, don’t partake – stomach upsets at a festival are unpleasant
4. Keep clean. Hard to do if your festival is a muddy quagmire, but when eating or handling food, or caring for babies and young children, make sure that at least your hands are clean
5. Clean up after a visit to the loo. Toilet facilities vary from festival to festival, but even with the poshest set-up it’s advisable to use disinfectant hand wipes after you’ve been – not everyone is fastidious about washing their hands
6. Protect your ears. Long term exposure to loud music can cause irreversible damage to hearing, from tinnitus to deafness. Find a way to protect your ears (ear plugs, head phones, staying further away from the source of the noise) and always protect the hearing of babies and young children
7. Stay out of the sun. Try to find shade wherever possible and make sure that you use an effective sunscreen. Where a hat (especially if you are thinner on top!) and always ensure that children are well covered
8. Keep warm at night. If you are at a festival that takes place over several days and you are camping out, make sure you and your party have watertight camping equipment and that you stay warm – a surprising number of people suffer from hypothermia at festivals
9. Keep an eye out for each other. Festivals are a great coming together of people, but there is always potential for individuals to become isolated or fall ill without being noticed. If someone looks poorly, either offer help or get help