Summer health tips: Music festival survival guide
If part of your warm weather activities includes basking in the sun at any one of the many outdoor music and arts festivals -- such as Coachella, Lollapalooza or Bonnaroo -- make sure you’re well prepared for the high temps, day-long sun exposure, and throngs of people turning up the body heat.
When you're attending one of the hottest outdoor music festivals, we want you to not only have a rocking great time, we also want you to avoid a trip to the medical tent or the ER because of heat-related illness.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
Though you should be adequately hydrating every day, it is even more important when the weather warms up and you're in prep for a weekend-long outdoor event. Commit to drinking eight (8-ounce) glasses of water days leading up to the festival and take as many bottles of water in with you (typically two sealed bottles are allowed). If outside beverages aren't allowed, stock up on water as soon as you are admitted so you don't have to wait in line when you're already overheated.
Sunscreen will help protect your skin from hours of sun exposure -- as long as you reapply often, especially if you're sweating buckets or are getting sprayed with water. (Don't forget your feet if you're wearing sandals.) Opt for a water-proof sunscreen with SPF15 or higher. The last thing you want is raw, painful, burned skin, especially if you're roughing it in a tent throughout the weekend.
Don't go to a music festival to work on your tan. Go for the music and save the bikini for shorter stints in the sun. Dress in light clothing that covers your skin, and consider taking clothing that has built-in sun protection. Protect your head, face, ears, and neck (parts of your body that are most exposed to the sun) with a large brimmed hat, and add sport sunglasses that filter out 100% of UV rays to protect your eyes from sun damage.
If possible, pitch your tent in a shady spot and don't hesitate to retreat to it when the temps start to rise and fatigue starts setting in. In addition, take a large umbrella that you can tote throughout the festival grounds so you can set it up outside the area of crazy stage-seekers and enjoy the music – and people watching – protected from the sun.
Know the signs of heat illness
Heat exhaustion and heat stroke can occur when you're dehydrated and in the throes of rocking out, especially during the hottest part of the day (10am – 4pm). To avoid a medical emergency, know the symptoms of heat-related illness and seek help immediately.
Signs of heat exhaustion include weakness, fatigue, nausea, headache, clammy and moist skin and profuse sweating with normal to slightly elevated body temperatures. Signs of heat stroke include mental confusion, delirium, loss of consciousness, convulsions, lack of sweating, hot and dry skin with increasing body temperature.
Eat and drink sensibly
Don't fill up on fried foods or high-sugar foods during the music fest. Fried foods can cause digestive duress while high-sugar foods can leave you feeling exhausted, headachy, and irritable.
Further, don't over-indulge on alcohol -- it will not only increase your risk of dehydration, it can dull your awareness so you don't realize that you're experiencing the symptoms of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Go for vegetables, fruits, grains, and lean proteins, such as chicken, when hungry. Fruits and vegetables or nutrition bars are particularly handy for snacking to keep your energy up throughout the activities.
Pack an antibacterial gel or wipes and use them before you eat as well as after you happen to hang on your sweaty concert-going neighbor or use the portable restrooms. Another way to counter germs is by making sure that you load up on vitamin C and other immune system boosters. For example, take packets of Emergen-C with you and add them to a bottle or two of water each day.
If you love music, you will want to protect your hearing! Use some sort of hearing protection -- from inexpensive moldable earplugs to more expensive earmuffs. (Even some earbud-type headphones will offer a degree of protection.) Be ready, because you know you're going to be exposed to high sound levels -- probably higher then 100 dB(A). If you don't wear hearing protection, you're likely to experience tinnitus, or, over time, deaden certain areas in your inner ear, effectively making it impossible for you to hear certain frequencies.
Have fun but get some rest
Be smart about the shoes that you wear -- you don't need high heels for a show that's on a grassy, rocky or muddy field. If you want a little height from your shoes, go with wedges or clogs instead of pumps or spiked heel boots. And if you're attending the festival over multiple days, and don't have the ultimate comfortable shoe, trade off with a couple of different pairs.
HAVE FUN, BUT GET REST, too
Schedule some sleep and nap time into your music festival agenda. Staying well-rested will allow you to enjoy the event without fatigue, decrease your risk of heat-related illness, and bolster your immune system to help you avoid getting sick. Aim for at least few good hours of sleep at night, and steal away for a powernap each day.
Top photo from Coachella.com, second photo Chloe Sevigny at Coachella in 2009