Tuesday 20 June 2023 - As thousands get ready to descend on Glastonbury this week, and this summer expected to be a scorcher, St John Ambulance issues some simple, but lifesaving advice, on keeping safe this festival season. 

Whether you're a festival veteran or a first-time attendee, St John urgers festival goers to be prepared as temperatures rise by packing plenty of suncream, a hat and a refillable bottle for water.  

The charity also encourages everyone to be aware of how to spot the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion in their friends – a condition usually caused by physical activity in the heat, like dancing. By spotting the symptoms early, this can help prevent it developing into a serious medical emergency, heatstroke. 

David Monk, Associate Medical Director for St John Ambulance said: 

“The last thing you want to consider is something going wrong but it’s important to make sure that you’re fully prepared this festival season – especially as we’re expecting a hot summer. 

“As well as packing plenty of sun cream with a minimum SPF 30, a hat, a bottle of water and comfortable footwear. It’s also worth making sure you’re aware of the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.  

“If you, or a friend, start to get a headache, feel nauseous, become dizzy, confused or sweating with clammy skin, it’s worth taking a bit of time out to rest in the shade and rehydrate with water. These symptoms can develop rapidly and can turn into something much more serious – like heatstroke - if not treated properly. So please seek medical advice from festival staff if you’re concerned. They’re there to help and may be able to prevent something from becoming more serious. 

“If you are drinking alcohol in the hot weather too, make sure to pace yourself and keep an eye on how much you and your friends are drinking. Carry a bottle of water around with you to help prevent you from becoming dehydrated.” 

Injuries can often vary at festivals, ranging from sprained ankles and painful blisters to more serious illnesses like alcohol poisoning, drug overdoses or heat stroke that can be fatal.  

Most of these injuries and illnesses are preventable but can be made worse in the heat. So as temperatures rise this summer, St John urges everyone to be mindful of some of the signs of heat exhaustion at festivals and shares its expert advice on how to treat these symptoms. 

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 breathing 

How to help someone with heat exhaustion: 

  • Help them to lie down in a cool place and raise their legs. 
  • Give them lots of water to drink or isotonic sports drinks to replace the salt lost 
  • Keep checking their breathing, pulse and responsiveness. 
  • If you’re concerned, suggest they get medical advice 

If they don't recover after 30 minutes of lying down in a cool place, start to develop hot but dry skin and lose consciousness - St John says to seek medical help immediately. As they may have heat stroke, and this can be life-threatening. Place them in the recovery position and try and cool them down with a sponge or cloth with cool water, whilst you wait for medical help to arrive. 

For more first aid advice on how to keep you and your friends safe this festival season, visit www.sja.org.uk or download the free St John Ambulance First Aid app to your phone.