Stay safe this summer
From Glastonbury and V to Reading and Leeds, the UK’s music festivals offer you and your best mates the chance to party throughout the night to the sound of your favourite bands.
To make sure nothing gets in the way of you having a good time, we’ve pulled together some top tips on staying safe at this year’s summer festivals.
Alcohol: avoid that booze burnout
1. When you’re having an experience to remember, why ruin it with a killer hangover and only a vague recollection of that brilliant night? Drink responsibly.
2. Pace yourself and don’t feel pressured into keeping up with friends or other festival-goers if they’re drinking more than you.
3. Make sure you’re holding your drink – whether it’s alcoholic or not – in your hands or keeping a close eye on it. If you leave your drink unattended, you run the risk of having it spiked. Sadly, even in an arena full of so many people, this can happen more often than you think.
4. Never accept a drink from a stranger unless you’re 100% sure it’s unopened with the seal still intact. Cash may be tight and you might be having fun socialising, but accepting drinks from someone you don’t know is a no no.
5. Drinking alcohol on an empty stomach is never a good idea, and even more so if you’re going to be dancing, moshing or crunking to your favourite band. Food helps to absorb alcohol and replaces the salt and minerals you lose when you sweat. Before you rush to buy that burger though, check out our food section below.
6. If you do end up with a hangover the following morning, avoid hair of the dog – it only delays the problem. Take a break from alcohol. Rehydrating with water (ideally before you go to sleep), getting a vitamin boost from fruit juices and, if necessary, taking a Paracetamol-based painkiller and an antacid are your best options for easing the symptoms. You might also want to try a rehydration treatment sachet to replace lost minerals and salt, and eating a banana or a kiwi as these contain potassium, a mineral you can lose through drinking.
7. Look out for your mates and be sure that everyone in your group is clued up on the symptoms and dangers of alcohol poisoning. Once someone is suffering from this dangerous condition, they will be in no fit state to look after themselves.
8. Remember: too much alcohol can impair your judgement, which is never good at a music festival, as thieves and pickpockets can operate at these events. Read more in our personal safety section.
With thanks to Drinkaware.
Food: buy the burger, not the bug
1. Foodborne illnesses can increase during the summer months, so it’s even more important to be sure that the food you eat has been prepared with food safety standards in mind. When you first approach a vendor, check that they have a clean and tidy workstation. If it’s cluttered and grubby you’d be better off giving it a miss.
2. Food vendors should also have a sink nearby to regularly wash their hands, and you shouldavoid vendors who aren’t wearing gloves or using tongs when handling food. They can pass on harmful bacteria through food, which can lead to food poisoning.
3. Festival grub is often unhealthy, and you may be upsetting your stomach by consuming too many greasy foods. Try a healthy option, even if that means making it at home and bringing it with you, and remember to flush out bad toxins with plenty of water. More on H20 in our skin section.
4. If you do decide to bring your favourite food from home, or you’re making use of the open space by having a picnic, transport it in a cool box and be sure not to let food sit out for too long. Dairy-based products spoil easily, particularly in warm weather, and spoilt meat can be dangerous. As the saying goes: “When in doubt, throw it out!”
5. If you do suspect you may have suffered a bout of food poisoning, report it to the local council immediately, even if you’ve recovered. It’s often people voicing their concern that leads to an investigation into the vendor and something being done about it to avoid someone suffering the same fate. If you only ate food from a particular vendor, you can also check with local authorities whether he/she had a valid licence to sell food and drinks.
6. Find your nearest hand washing station and wash your hands often, even if you think you haven’t handled anything unsanitary. Here’s where plenty of hand sanitizers or disposable wipes will come in handy, too.
7. Festival toilets can harbour many germs with so many people sharing. Try not to touch door handles without a tissue or wet wipe, and don’t enter a toilet in just your flip flops! The general state of the floor is unlikely to meet the standards you’re used to. We won’t go into details…
Trips & falls: sidestep festival hazards
1. While it would be great if everyone used the waste bins provided to dispose of rubbish, many people don’t. You need to watch out for more than just beer cans and banana peels, as there may be more dangerous stuff on the ground such as broken glass.
2. Those brand new heels may look great, but you’ll be safer (and more comfortable) wearing footwear with a thick sole. Not only will this help provide the support you need for a whole day spent walking from one stage to the next, it’ll also help to protect your feet from anything hazardous left on the ground. Oh, and have you ever tried to walk through a muddy field in heels?
3. Unless you’re very lucky, it is likely that there will be some rain over the three or four days you’re at the festival – this is the UK, after all. With this in mind, a good pair of wellies are a festival essential. You’ll have no trouble finding a stylish pair these days, but make sure they have a good grip so you don’t end up falling face first into the infamous Glastonbury mud.
4. If you do slip over and end up covered head to toe in mud then you might end up losing more than your dignity. A poll conducted by MobileInsurance.co.uk found that 1 in 20 festival-goers had their handsets lost, broken or stolen at last year’s Glastonbury festival – and the same could happen to your wallet or purse. Keep everything in zipped pockets or a bumbag. Read more on this in our personal safety section.
Skin: hydrate & protect those poor pores
1. Music festivals mean a higher risk of dehydration, potentially leading to dizziness, headaches or even seizures, so you need to up your water intake. You may not know it, but it’s common to sweat in your sleep, especially in a warm tent, which will make you even more dehydrated.
2. Drinking water will also give lifeless skin a boost, because it acts as a protective barrier to prevent excess fluid loss. You may want to leave your foundation and BB creams behind and take large bottles of water to the festival instead!
3. Another thing that’s great for the skin (and general health) is some good old beauty sleep, which can be hard to get when you’re away from your own bed. Try making yourself comfortable by taking a tried and tested sleeping bag and an inflatable pillow, along with earplugs to drown out festival noise.
4. While we’re sure you’ve packed sunscreen, you need to make sure it’s more than SPF10 and that you’re reapplying every few hours, otherwise you’re left unprotected. It’s easy to find time to slather it on, such as when you’re waiting in a queue for food, or lining up to use the washroom. Doing so will help protect your skin from harmful UV rays, lowering the risk of a painful dose of sunburn which can, in turn, lead to skin cancer.
5. Long days under the sun are what music festivals are all about, but tight clothing can make you sweat more and cause itching! Let your skin breathe by wearing lightweight clothing to keep your body cool. Black clothing will absorb sunlight, so try light colours instead. Neon if you must!
6. You will come across plenty of temporary tattoo stands at a festival, but exercise caution, as needles may not be thoroughly cleaned and sterilised, while ink or henna could be contaminated. Why not apply stick-on tattoos before the event? They’ve come a long way since those cartoon transfers that you’ll remember from your childhood.
Personal safety: look out for each other
1. Before you make your way to the festival, make sure your mobile phone is fully charged and always take a spare battery or a wind-up charger in case it dies on you. There are never enough charging points and who wants to spend the weekend queuing, anyway? Remember to swap numbers with everyone in the group so you can easily find each other again if you get separated.
2. Whether you’re driving to the festival or taking public transport, know the route and have a map with you. If you find yourself alone and out of the festival area, you’ll need to be able to navigate back.
3. Once you’ve settled into your spot at the festival, locate the nearest exit so that you have an evacuation strategy planned in case of an emergency. It’s also wise to know where the first aid tents or stands are, but keep essential things like plasters in your bag, too.
4. We don’t recommend going to a festival alone but, if you do find yourself in such a situation, make your presence known. Introduce yourself to people around you and neighbouring campers. They’ll be more likely to notice should anything happen or should you go missing.
Personal belongings: secure valuables
1. Thieves and pickpockets may be lurking around, regardless of how many security staff are present, so be alert! It’s best not to take anything you would be sad to lose and, while you should carry some cash with you, keep it to a minimum. If you follow our money-saving tips, you won’t need to take too much with you, anyway!
2. Store valuables in a safe and convenient place. Travel bags, strap-on chest wallets and bumbags are ideal for things like cash, cards, IDs and keys. You can also keep car and house keys on a keychain with a hook, and securely attach this onto your shorts or jeans.
3. Thieves may view after dark as their best opportunity. Store your valuables in your sleeping bag so that they’re not taken while you’re asleep. Also, beware of strangers stumbling in, acting as if they are drunk or high. It can all be a ruse to distract you while they take your belongings.
4. Crowd-surfing may seem fun, but not only is this dangerous, it’s another opportunity forthieves to dip into your loose change. Due to the huge number of people around, you’d be left without a suspect and are unlikely to realise what’s happened until much later.
5. If you’d much rather store valuables in a locker, make sure you find out if these need to be pre-booked by contacting the festival providers beforehand. They can go pretty fast, so book early to avoid disappointment.
6. Festival providers should issue rules on what you can and can’t bring in. Have a good read of these before you set out to the event, because it’s never fun having to throw away something you’ve paid for.
Money: save where you can
1. Get what you can from your local supermarket rather than relying on buying things at the festival, as they could cost double or more. This includes essentials such as medicine, food, sunscreen or camping gear
2. Withdraw cash beforehand from a free cash machine, as festivals often have long queues and will probably charge you extra for taking money out – but as we’ve said elsewhere, keep that cash in a bumbag or somewhere extra safe from pickpockets
3. Take snacks with you that have a long shelf life to avoid having to buy big portions when you’re only feeling mildly peckish
4. Festivals should have water fountains located on site, so take an empty water bottle and simply refill to save on the cost of buying expensive soft drinks.