Monday 18 December 2017

Dr. Ciara Kelly's complete festival health guide

The festival season is hotting up but don't get burnt, in any sense

Festival fun: There's something wonderful about throwing off the mantle of normal life, listening to good tunes and soaking up the atmosphere - but take care
Festival fun: There's something wonderful about throwing off the mantle of normal life, listening to good tunes and soaking up the atmosphere - but take care

Ciara Kelly

It's festival season and whether you're 15 or 50, donning short shorts, wearing wellies and putting feathers in your hair is the order of the day. The Electric picnic, Longitude, Castlepalooza, Groove and Knockanstockan are but a few of the big names that fill the Irish summer with a slice of excitement, and whether it's the thrill of your first festival or whether you're recapturing your misspent youth, they're all sorts of fun.

I should nail my colours to the mast and say I'm a big fan of festivals. I've never been one to mind a bit of dirt and muck, and there's something rather wonderful about throwing off the mantle of sensibleness for a couple of days. Missing a lot of sleep. Hearing some good tunes. Listening to some comedy and debate and generally having good craic and soaking up the particular arty, hedonistic atmosphere that a festival pulsates with, into the small hours.

But - and it is a big but - there are certain preparations, or more accurately put, precautions you should take, to ensure that when reality bites again on Monday morning, you leave with nothing more than happy memories and a fake tattoo.

There's a long list of festival essentials you should bring like baby wipes and dry shampoo - I won't bore you with that - but much more important is that when you're cutting lose, you stay safe and don't put yourself at any undue risk of harm.

Sex and drugs (and drink) and rock and roll, are pretty much on the line up at all festivals but make sure whatever you do, you do safely. Sex, particularly inebriated sex, even with your partner, tends to be more risky from a pregnancy point of view, but if it's with someone you've just met, then you run the major risk of catching a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Everyone should bring condoms with them to festivals, because sometimes stuff happens even if you weren't planning on it beforehand. And when it comes to condoms, it's way better to be looking at one at three in the morning rather than looking for one.

Another issue around sex at festivals is to just be careful in general. Sexual assaults can, and do, happen, so keep some semblance of your wits about you and stick with your friends. In addition, in recent times, random strangers recording other people's sex acts on their smart phones is now a thing. So if you don't want to see yourself on the internet the morning after the night before, you might want to think twice about the privacy, location and possibly the wisdom of your actions.

The main thing around drink is to pace yourself, keep hydrated and don't do anything stupid. Drugs should be avoided - pills bought from people you've never met before, are simply a bad idea. At best, they might do nothing at all and just be a waste of your money but at worst they could be rat poison, strychnine or God knows what. Every year people die as a result of rogue pills that aren't what they purported to be. Give them a very wide berth.

Alcohol in large doses, over a short space of time, in the sun (hopefully) is likely to dehydrate you - possibly severely. Have water and isotonic sports drinks in your tent as a pre-sleep and wake up essential. Paracetamol - especially for the middle-aged among you is also a good idea. It's not all about hangovers and recovery - 40-year-old hips don't do well overnight in tents and hobbling around the next day is a sure fire way to wreck your youthful buzz. Oh, and as hope springs eternal, don't forget the sunscreen.


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