Sunny festivals are what everyone hopes for - but not if you end up with heatstroke or sunburn. Here's how to play safe in the sun.
Hot days at home are very different from hot days in a field. You have easy access to cool running water, as well as shade and a sofa to snooze on until the temperature cools. As a festival is always going to be short on luxuries, it's vital that you're prepared should the sun blaze down from dawn to dusk. Here's how:
- Pack sun cream, block or lotion with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 15 or more. This is basically a filter system designed to block out harmful UV rays and reduce the risk of burning. Which SPF is right for you? If in doubt, aim high and don't be shy about using a total sun block.
- Try to stay out of the mid-day sun when the rays are strongest. Of course, this isn't easy at some festivals, so pack a hat as a precaution as well as a long-sleeved shirt (preferably cotton to allow your skin to breathe.)
- If you forget your sunscreen, or it gets nicked along with your tent, head to the information tent or a first aid point - they may not have any sunscreen available, but they will know someone who does.
- Keep those fluids up. In hot weather, the body keeps itself cool by sweating. To help maintain this in-built air-conditioning system, you need to fuel it with a non-alcoholic drink such as water or fruit juice. If possible, carry a bottle that you can sip from regularly and refill when necessary.
- Watch your alcohol intake. Booze has a diuretic effect on the body, which means it squeezes water from the cells. You might think a beer will quench your thirst, but the relief from washing festival cider down your gullet will prove to be short-lived.
- Boozing in hot, sunny weather increases your risk of dehydration. This can be a contributing factor when it comes to heatstroke (in which the body becomes overheated very quickly, causing immediate and sometimes critical health problems).
- Sun-down sense is as important as sun-sense. The temperature can drop dramatically towards dusk. It means if you've enjoyed drifting through the crowds all day wearing nothing but sandals and a smile on your face, you risk getting chilled very quickly. Carry a lightweight top with you - in a shoulder bag or round your waist - even when the sun is scorching. It beats having to trail back to your tent for warm clothes, just as that band you've been desperate to see comes on.
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