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Staying Healthy at Festival

Staying Healthy at Festival

By Dame Acacia de Navarre

OK, the garb is packed, the bedding and camping sorted out, the count down till the partying is about to occur....and to quote a friend "Ah festival I can feel it in the air".

This is going to be a new site and there will be some shake down issues (as there always are on a new site). So I am here to give you some tips on how to ensure that you get the most out of your time there by staying healthy (and no this is not to be a lecture on drinking moderation and chastity, I leave that to your own discretion).

Exposed to the elements

Firstly you are going to be camping outdoors; yes I know that is an obvious but it does take a number of tolls on your physical health that you may not realise. One of the major effects of being outdoors is dehydration. Most of us work indoors and live indoors a fair bit of our lives; this means that we are not exposed to the elements as much as we are when we go camping. Add on to this the fact that you will be doing a lot more exercise (fighting, drinking, walking around the site and other general mayhem) and you will find that your body has a lot higher need for water than it normally would. Prolonged dehydration can affect you through tiredness and lethargy, reduced resistance to illness, cracked lips and horse voice. Don't wait until you feel thirsty to get a drink, by that time your body is already dehydrated. Make an effort to drink more water than what you are used to, find some form or water bottle and keep it with you. If you are fighting think of taking down a sports drink or two to help you recover.

The other aspect of camping is that you (and the things you own) will be dirtier than you normally are; this has a big impact when you come into contact with food. If you don't want to get sick (or make others sick) then you need to make very sure of washing your hands, feasting kit and mugs before they come into any contact with food or drink. The new waterless hand washer is excellent for carrying in your pouch or having in your tent for just this purpose. Also if you don't want to get a cut infected then make sure that you cover it with a bandage and that you change the bandage regularly.

Need I say Outdoor = Sun (and hopefully lots of it rather than rain), so slip, slop, slap and don't forget you sunglasses. Remember with sunscreen, once is not enough. You must reapply regularly if it is going to do its job.

Beasties that walk and crawl upon the earth

To quote a famous email on Australia, all our fauna can be classified as either odd, poisonous or sheep, and in some cases they can be more than one of these but if they ever find an odd, poisonous, sheep then I am immigrating! First rule with any beastie is leave it alone, most of them will not hurt you as long as you don't hurt it. If you think it might be dangerous, let someone know, preferably a constable but at least the campsite where you are in. Unfortunately not all the bugs, insects and beasties are so kind as to leave you alone and some will actively seek you out.

Below are some tips for handling most of the main ones which we know are on the site.

Ants

Yep there are big ones on site and prevention is better than cure. So make sure all foodstuffs (especially sugary ones) are covered in sealed containers; all garbage thrown out and all feasting gear is cleaned after use. If you want to be really sure then I would spray down your tent before using it with a surface spray to make sure that they don't find a way in. If you get bitten then the best treatment is ice or stingose.

Flying bugs

Insect repellent is your friend here (it also helps with ticks too). Use regularly but especially near sunset (or dawn if you are up then yeah right!) when flying bugs will be more active.

Ticks

We are not sure about the presence of ticks on site but best to be prepared and again prevention is best, insect repellent (especially if you spray on your clothes as well) can help here in particular ones containing diethyl-metatoluamide (DEET) or picaridin. Check yourself regularly for ticks, not forgetting behind the ears. If you do find one then go and see a chirurgeon as they are best removed with tweezers and you need to be sure to remove the head.

Leeches

Best prevention is to stay away from marshy areas but with a creek down the middle of the campsite that may not be easy. The simplest way to remove a leech is with salt; a shake onto the body and most will quickly drop off. Tea tree oil or vinegar dabbed onto the body are also effective alternatives. Another alternative is to scorch them with a cigarette or lighter. Unlike ticks, leeches do not burrow into the skin nor will they leave a poisonous head in the wound but it is still important to use antiseptic on the wound and cover it afterwards.

Other small bugs: spiders, small scorpions etc.

Best prevention is to shake out anything before you put it on. Shoes are a big one here and you should always shake them out before putting on. If bitten (by anything other than a funnel web) then ice is the best treatment. If you are worried about the type of spider that bit you or you are unsure then sit down, stay calm and send someone to get a chirurgeon.

So when you are packing, you may want to put together a small first aid kit, below are some of the very basic things that you should think to include:

  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent
  • Waterless hand wash
  • Bandages
  • Salt (small packet from fast food places are excellent for this)
  • Any medication which you normally take
  • Lip Chap Stick
  • Stingose
  • Antiseptic

Enjoy your festival!! Stay safe and have fun.