Going to a festival can be one of the best experiences you’ll ever have – banging live music, the company of great friends, all in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.
However this laid back attitude can lend itself to an array of problems, from having one drink too many, to experimentation with drugs. Crime is a big issue with violence and thefts galore. You also put yourself at risk if you don’t drink enough water and neglect your ear plugs.
Last year (2012) there seemed to be countless reports of trouble at festivals – including a stabbing at Shakedown, a murder at V festival and the terrible coach crash which killed 3 passengers on their way home from Bestival. Whether you’re festival savvy or thinking about going to one for the first time, knowing about the dangers can help you stay safe when festivalling.
It’s universally acknowledged that drinking goes hand in hand with festivals. It’s okay to have a few drinks, as long as you’re careful. Don’t drink alcohol on an empty stomach or mix it with drugs. Accidents are more likely to happen if you’re drunk and seeking medical attention can be difficult if you’re in a packed crowd of people. If you want to remember the bands you see and avoid the stinking hangover, stay sober.
It was recently revealed in the Guardian that police seized more than £100,000 worth of drugs last year, with Glastonbury, Isle of Wight and Bestival in the top three. With so much around, it is possible that you might be offered drugs, or worse, offered a drink that has been spiked. Be careful who you stick around and don’t accept any kind of substance from a stranger.
At Rockness festival this year a teenager died after taking Benzo Fury, a ‘legal high’. The teen was not a habitual drug user but it seemed that being in an environment where substances like this were readily available lead to this tragedy. People may think that illegal highs are safe as they aren’t classified as drugs but they can be extremely dangerous. It’s not always clear what’s in them as their contents can change regularly. In the same way as drugs, stay clear of them.
Figures showed that almost £225,000 worth of possessions were stolen at festivals in 2011, with one in seven festival goers being victims of theft. According to the police, the most common thefts were from unattended tents and pickpocketing was also widespread. Make sure you take all your valuables with you when you leave your tent and be on the watch when you’re on the festival site. Even better, avoid taking expensive gadgets that could be targeted by thieves.
Spend too long listening to loud music and it could affect your ears permanently in the form of tinnitus and hearing loss. According to NHS Choices, festival music can reach over 110 decibels. In a survey of 2,711 festival goers in 2008, 84% said they had dullness of hearing and ringing in the ears after listening to loud music. Be on the safe side and wear ear plugs, it could save your hearing.
Most festivals these days provide drinking water for festival goers – although trying to find a tap when you’re not quite on the straight and narrow isn’t always an easy quest. Festivals usually allow you to take a (plastic) bottle into the arena but this isn’t always the case and more often than not you have to buy the ridiculously expensive bottles at the bar. However it is so important to keep yourself hydrated when you’re dancing around all day, especially if you’re drinking alcohol. Arrange a water break between bands to get some fluids.
Festivals are awesome and the crime the percentage of people that run into trouble is very, very small – but it does happen. Most importantly, stick with your friends and look out for each other. If you suspect something is wrong, seek medical attention immediately. Have fun and stay safe!
Published in This Festival Feeling