Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Summer Festival Safety

In the last ten years, music festivals stretching over a number of days have become more and more popular. The success of Bonnaroo in particular is quite notable; despite high gas prices and unseasonably warm weather, the four-day-long Tennessee festival attracted over eighty thousand patrons, almost all of whom elected to camp out directly on the festival grounds.

Photo copyright egw,

Sounds pretty amazing, right? Who wouldn’t want to camp out with your favorite bands in the beautiful Tennessee wilderness (along with eighty thousand friends). The more the merrier, right?

Yet over the course of the festival’s ten-year run, four people have died while attending the festival. Two of those deaths occurred during Bonnaroo 2011.

I’m tempted to cite my “Dr. Wright Breaks It Down for You: Crowd Safety” podcast again, but we’re not talking about panicked festival goers. According to the L.A. Times, the man died of “hyperthermia,” or overheating.

So, what to do? It’s tricky, especially when bottled water is assuredly at festival prices (read: crazy expensive) and, due to the rural nature of Bonnaroo, there aren’t exactly drinking fountains every five feet. To discourage buying bottled water, the Bonnaroo management have set up around twenty-four “water fill-up stations"

Sean Higgans, who attended this year’s festival, wrote:
With temps in the 90s and humidity through the roof, staying cool and keeping hydrated was of the utmost importance. My battle for water was often a tough one, as fighting through a crowd of 100,000 [sic] to fill up a single water bottle is no easy task.


I went online to try to find some safety tips for summer festivals. The UK’s Ministry of Health had a pretty good collection of tips here (as well they should, seeing that their Glastonbury Festival, with a maximum capacity of almost a hundred and eighty THOUSAND, sold out this year). It’s definitely worth a read, but two points jumped out at me as really, really good ones:

Organize a meeting point with your friends where you will be three times a day (e.g. 2pm, 6pm and 1am) in case you get split up.

This is a pretty good tip—it’ll allow you to check up on your friends (and let them check up on you) to make sure everyone’s doing all right health-wise.

Remember, alcohol or drugs can affect your ability to make safe judgments.

This seems pretty obvious, but it’s a good one to keep in the back of your mind. Wouldn’t hurt to ask yourself this every so often. Especially keep in mind that alcohol actually dehydrates you .

It’s actually a testament to the Bonnaroo organizers that more people weren’t injured. With reports of over eighty-five THOUSAND people gathered in ninety-five degree heat in the middle of Tennessee, the festival could have easily spiraled out of control. But it didn’t.

Reflecting on his experience at Bonnaroo 2011, photographer Fil Manley wrote:

At Bonnaroo, everyone, regardless of their income, color, sexual orientation or religious beliefs has a home, and everyone walks around in the same white dust and uses the same blue and grey bathrooms. I think that’s beautiful and awesome, and this year, 85,000 people agreed with me.
I agree as well. These music festivals are, overall, consistently peaceful gatherings where people celebrate the health and well-being of the world.

Just don’t forget to look out for your own health and well-being , too. And that means keeping hydrated.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Mission Statement