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Festival first aid tipsFestival crowd

It’s that time of the year again when the tents are pitched, the wellies are on and there’s a drink in hand!

Whether you’re heading to the Isle of Wight Festival, Parklife or just enjoying a weekend away camping, stay safe and keep in mind our top first aid tips.

Keep hydrated

With hot and sunny weather forecast for the weekend, make sure you stay hydrated whilst having fun in the sun. Clouds and a spot of rain won’t dampen your spirits, but still try to drink plenty of water when spending your days dancing around, beer in hand.

Alcohol lowers the body’s anti-diuretic hormone, which in turn causes dehydration. Dehydration also happens when someone loses more fluid than they take in, especially if it’s really hot and sweaty outside, so make sure you’re sipping on H20 at regular intervals.

How to spot dehydration:

There are four key things to look for if someone is suffering from dehydration:

  • • Headaches and light headedness
  • • Dry mouth, eyes and lips
  • • Small amounts of dark urine Bottle of water
  • • Muscle cramps

How to treat dehydration:

  • • Help the person sit down and give them plenty of water to drink.
  • • Giving them an oral rehydration solution to drink will help replace salt and other minerals which they’ve lost – you can buy this in sachets from any pharmacy.
  • • If they have any painful cramps, encourage them to rest, help them stretch and massage their muscles that hurt.
  • • Keep checking how they’re feeling – if they still feel unwell once they’re rehydrated then encourage them to see a doctor straight away.

If left untreated, someone with dehydration can develop heat exhaustion, which is more serious. It is important to make sure they rehydrate as soon as possible.

Read more about dehydration in our first aid advice section.

Stay cool

Heat exhaustion is caused by a loss of salt and water from the body, usually through excessive sweating. It develops slowly and usually happens to people who aren’t used to hot, humid weather. If you’re at a festival and it’s very hot, it’s easy to suffer from heat exhaustion.

A dangerous and common cause of heat exhaustion is when the body produces more heat than it can cope with. This can happen when someone takes a non-prescription drug, like ecstasy, which can stop the body from regulating its temperature properly. If someone gets hot and sweats a lot from dancing, they may also overheat and become dehydrated, causing heat exhaustion.

How to spot heat exhaustion:

  • • Headache
  • • Dizziness and confusion
  • • Loss of appetite and feeling sick
  • • Sweating with pale clammy skin
  • • Cramps in the arms, legs and stomach
  • • Fast, weakening pulse and shallow breathing

How to treat heat exhaustion:

  • • Help the casualty to a cool place, out of the sun and encourage them to lie down with their legs raised and supported.
  • • You then need to give them lots of water. You could also give them an isotonic sports drink or oral rehydration solution, to help replace the salt and fluid they have lost through sweating.
  • • Monitor their level of response. Even if they recover quickly, suggest they seek medical advice. If their condition seems to be getting worse, call 999/112 for emergency help.

Read more about heat exhaustion in our first aid advice section.

How to spot signs for alcohol poisoning:Beer

It's important to stay safe. If someone has got alcohol poisoning, spot these signs:

  • • Strong smell of alcohol
  • • Confusion and slurred speech
  • • Vomiting
  • • Reddened and moist face
  • • Deep, noisy breathing and pounding pulse
  • • Unresponsiveness

How to treat alcohol poisoning:

  • • Reassure and cover them with a coat or blanket for warmth.
  • • Check breathing, responsiveness and pulse.
  • • Do not make them vomit as this could affect their breathing. Instead call 999 or 112 for emergency help.

If they’re unresponsive check for shallow breathing, a weak and/or rapid pulse, widened pupils that react poorly to light. If they’re breathing normally, but aren’t fully responsive, place them in the recovery position.

How to spot signs for drug poisoning:

Poisons are substances that can cause temporary or permanent damage if too much is absorbed by the body. Someone can get drug poisoning from taking an overdose of prescribed drugs, over the counter drugs or illegal drugs.

The effects will be different depending on the type of drug and how the person has taken it. Here are some of the signs to look out for:

  • • Stomach pains 
  • • Nausea and vomiting 
  • • Sleepiness and confusion
  • • Hyperactive behaviour
  • • Sweating
  • • Shaking hands and/or hallucinations
  • • Unusually slow or fast pulse
  • • Unusually small or large pupils
  • • Needle marks

Treating drug poisoning

  • • Call 999 or 111 for emergency help. Ensure they are comfortable and ask what they’ve taken, gathering as much information as you can.
  • • Look for packages or containers that can identify the drugs. 
  • • Check breathing, pulse and responsiveness.
  • • If they become unresponsive, open their airway and prepare to treat them accordingly. Don’t force them to vomit, but give them a bag or container to be sick in. Hand this to the ambulance drivers as this could help them identify the drugs taken.

Read more about poisons in our first aid advice section.

Insect bites and stings

Being out in nature, it's possible that you or someone else can get an insect bite or sting. Here are the signs to spot:

  • • If a sting is visible, carefully scrape it off sideways with your fingernail or a credit card – do not use tweezers.
  • • There will probably be redness and swelling around the sting, so raise the affected part of the body and apply an ice pack wrapped in a clean cloth.
  • • For stings to the throat or mouth, there’s a chance that swelling could block the airway. To minimise this, give the person an ice cube to suck or a cold glass of water to sip. If you notice swelling to the face or neck or any difficulty breathing, call 999 for emergency help. 

Read more about bites and stings in our first aid advice section.