Something which has been on my mind due to the amount of festivals which I've attended this year has been how you are supposed to stay safe at festivals. Festival season might be coming to an end this month but that doesn't mean that people won't be attending festivals anymore. Perhaps you can use these tips for your September festivals or keep it for future reference regarding 2019 festivals.
Those of you who personally know me or follow my personal social media will know that I go to a lot of festivals. This year alone, I have gone to around 7 festivals and my family and I still have a few more planned. I love festivals. A lot of the festivals I go to are classified as ‘family friendly festivals’ so there is lots for kids to do, most people are very friendly and will help you if you're lost or upset and it's just generally a nice atmosphere. But what about festivals that aren't necessarily like that, or just big festivals like Reading or Leeds? How do you stay safe then?
My first tip for staying safe at a festival is never accept anything from someone you don't know. There was an incident at a festival called Roystonbury earlier this year where someone was handing out chocolate with drugs in it. It caused some real issues for the people at this festival and even the organisers were victims to it. I wasn't at this festival but my parents were and it's a scary situation when it's so close to home. You don't really know whether the people you are around are trustworthy or not. If they try to give you something such as a drink or some food, there may have been something done to it beforehand which means it isn't safe for consumption. This could be really dangerous and cause illness or damage to the person who ends up with it. Not everyone will be out to hurt you, but it's better to be safe than sorry.
My second tip is stay with people you know. Sometimes it's not always possible that you can get someone to come to a festival. Perhaps they can't afford it or they don't like the same music - whatever the reason, sometimes it is seemingly impossible. However, if there is any way that you can get someone to come with you then do it. There is the truth in the saying ‘safety in numbers.’ It could be a friend, a partner, a parent, a family member - it doesn't really matter who so long as you know them and are comfortable with them and you are prepared to keep each other safe.
Another thing to keep in mind is go places together. It's one thing to have people go to the festival with you but what is the point in them being there if as soon as you arrive, you go your separate ways and do your own thing? Make sure to have a buddy system in place. Stick together, or at least make sure you know where the other person/people will be if you need them. At one festival a few years back, me and my dad were going to get food together and we set off together but I lost my dad in the middle of a crowd of around 15,000 people and I was terrified. I had no idea where he was and he had no idea where I was. Luckily, I managed to get hold of him and we arranged a meeting place but it proves how easy it is to get lost and it shows just how scary it really is. So make sure that if you're going somewhere, you either arrange a place to meet if you lose each other or you want to go off by yourself or you hold on to each other as you go. You really don't want to get lost.
As well as keeping yourself safe, you need to keep your belongings safe. Nowadays, it is extremely uncommon for anyone to go anywhere without their phone. Phones can be expensive so you need to make sure that it and any other valuables are safe. You can do this by keeping them on your person at all times and never leaving them unattended. You could keep your essentials such as your phone, your money and your ID in a bag that you keep a hand on at all times so no one can pick pocket you or even better, you could put them somewhere that no one else can get to except you, like your shoe or in your bra/underwear. It might seem weird but it's actually very effective - I've tried it.
Festivals are often seen as an opportunity to get completely recklessly drunk. It is also sometimes seen as an opportunity to drink while underage as some festivals don't tend to check the ID of the person buying the alcohol and even if they do, it's easy enough to get a person of age to buy the drink for you. I definitely don't condone/recommend underage drinking, despite the fact I have done it myself. It's not a good idea - there is an age limit for a reason and you really should abide by it. However, if you are of age, you should still make sure you are drinking responsibly. Alcohol can make people act differently to how they may usually act when they are sober so make sure you're taking precautions in order to keep yourself and the people around you safe. Also, alcohol doesn't hydrate you properly which isn't good during the summer months as temperatures can soar - particularly at festivals. You can keep yourself hydrated as well as reasonably responsible and sober by equalling out your alcohol to water ratio. Follow every alcoholic drink by a glass of water. The water will hydrate you and will also help to keep you from getting too drunk and ending up either injuring yourself or someone else and causing trouble.
Despite all these rules and tips I have given you and the many incidents which have happened at festivals over the years, the vast majority of people go to festivals and have a great time and may become regulars at festivals for many years – going and having fun is your main priority! Staying safe doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your fun. You can easily max out the fun whilst still being safe and responsible. This can actually help you get the most out of your festival experience.
If you do have any issues at a festival, it's a good idea to speak to an available steward or warden on site who can sort it out for you. You can also always refer back to this article in order to keep safe and there are other websites to help you.
Here are some useful links:
Just remember - stay safe but HAVE FUN!