10 Pillars of Festival Safety
It is almost time for Rainbow Serpent Festival and we all want to enjoy ourselves!
However, dealing with weather conditions, camping, crowds of people, loud music and many other factors can sometimes be hectic and contribute to the risk of health disturbances.
To increase your likelihood of having a great time at this beautiful festival and reduce the risk that you will experience a health disturbance, please follow our 10 Pillars of Festival Safety:
1. Prepare Yourself
Weather conditions can change suddenly and you need to prepare for all kinds of weather; from burning UV sunrays and chilling-cold nights, to dust that gets in your eyes and aggravates asthma to rain and the mud that follows. Like any other camping trip, please ensure you pack warm clothes (get those woollen knits out), sunscreen, sun-smart hats and breathable clothing, appropriate footwear, insect repellent, a reliable tent and adequate bedding (check the temperature range on your sleeping bag). If you have a health condition bring your prescription medication (plus extra in case it gets lost or the seal is compromised and consider wearing a medical ID tag for the festival) and bring your own First Aid Kit. Don’t forget your insulin, EpiPen, inhalers, contraception, or any other important medication when you are reliant on this! Colbrow Medics will be the onsite medical provider for any incident which may occur.
In 2016 Colbrow Medics reported about 45% of their workload was related to minor cuts, grazes, insect bites, and hayfever. By bringing your own First Aid Kit and medication you will immensely assist them with this workload and, remember, it’s a large festival site, so having your own First Aid Kit nearby reduces the response time.
Rainbow Serpent Festival is proud to announce “The Nest” as a new initiative for 2017, where a range of social services are available next to Colbrow Medics, such as: an inclusive Safe Space for all women, trans and gender diverse people; who may be intoxicated and need care, love, and support; a DanceWize stall with drug educational resources and other free health supplies and a communal outdoor shaded area. If you do decide to have alcohol or other drugs, do so consciously. Be aware of your physical wellness, how you feel emotionally, consider the impact of existing health conditions and the medication you take and how the weather can complicate your drug experience. Make sure you are continually well-rested, fed and hydrated. Inform yourself on expected effects, safer/more pleasurable dose ranges, how to respond if there is an incident, many other risk factors and how to minimise those risks.
2. Be responsible and safe
You are in charge of your body. Know your own limits. Be gentle with yourself. Pushing your limits may result in a negative experience and can be dangerous. This part may come across a bit heavy, but we cannot stress enough how important this is: USING ALCOHOL OR OTHER DRUGS IS NEVER WITHOUT RISK.
Be cautious if you choose to use alcohol or other drugs. Less = More. Be aware the highest dose is often not the most fun dose and can involve serious risks. In the current global market, drugs often contain substances other than what they are sold as with unknown effects and much higher toxicity. The same counts for ‘legal highs’, ‘research chemicals’, ‘synthetic cannabis’ and other novel psychoactive substances, as little-to-no research has been done on most novel drugs. Whenever possible, TEST YOUR DRUGS. Ask DanceWize in The Nest for more information.
Be especially aware and cautious if you choose to combine alcohol and/or other drugs. Some combinations have high risks. Prescription medications are drugs that can have high risks too when combined with alcohol or other drugs e.g. MDMA/’ecstasy’ does not go with certain medication like anti-depressants, among others.
NEVER COMBINE GHB WITH ALCOHOL OR OTHER DEPRESSANTS (eg. Prescription benzos are depressants, like Valium/diazepam). In the past, GHB+depressants have led to people in need of life-support being transported offsite to hospital. If you choose to use GHB, be very precise on your dose. Note the dose and time of taking and tell a trusted person what you are doing, as taking even slightly too much can easily lead to a loss of consciousness.
ALWAYS ask for medical support when someone is unconscious and roll them on their side in the recovery position. BE RESPONSIBLE, SAFE AND INFORM YOURSELF. We cannot repeat this enough: do your research, be precise in your dosage, practice self-care always and seek help immediately when necessary.
3. Drink enough but not too much
Fluid is important to maintain a healthy body. Water intoxication (hyponatremia, linked to using MDMA) and dehydration are serious risks. You can reduce such risks this by drinking enough but not too much. Alternate water with sports drinks, coconut water, beetroot juice and tomato juice. Apply the following rules:
Up to 1 drink ( = 250ml, non-alcoholic) per hour maximum when you are chilling out.
Up to 2 drinks ( = 500ml, non-alcoholic) per hour maximum when it’s hot and/or you are active/dancing.
Alcohol does not count as fluid intake because it causes you to pee more than you drink.
4. Eat something every few hours
Eating regularly is just as important as drinking fluids to keep you well and prevent water intoxication. Food contains electrolytes that are important to maintaining a healthy fluid balance in your body. It also contains many other nutrients to replenish those you have used when partying. Eat something regularly, even if you don’t feel like it. Drink soup, beetroot juice or tomato juice when eating is difficult. Drinking coconut water and sports drinks may delay possible water intoxication slightly but will not prevent it completely. If you feel unwell, seek help early.
5. Cool down and chill out
Don’t want to stop dancing? Of course you don’t! However, cooling down is important to prevent your body from overheating.
Some drugs, like MDMA/ecstasy, make you less aware of your actual body temperature. Avoid being in the sun if you chose to take GHB. The best way to cool down is by chilling out regularly, even when you don’t feel like it. Use cooling aids on pulse points + the back of your neck + groin, avoid wearing synthetic fabrics in hot weather, never continue dancing when you are not feeling well, sprinkle yourself with water and find a nice spot in the shade.
6. Apply self-care
Partying at a multi-day event like Rainbow may disrupt some of the patterns you have at home. It is important to apply some self-care practices to stay fit and ready to party. Sleep is so important: a mental health crisis, including hallucinations, are often caused by a lack of sleep. Using stimulants like speed and ice (methamphetamine) increases these risks. Sleeping during daytime might be difficult due to the heat, but even lying down calmly and undisturbed for 2 hrs within each 24 hour period supports your health and wellbeing. Know how much sleep you need and work from there. About 7% of all cases that needed medical attention in 2016 were due to fatigue or malnutrition. Eat regular meals, sleep, maintain your personal hygiene and apply self-care practice to keep you going with a positive mindset!
7. The medical team is your friend
AND SO IS THE NEST!
IF YOU NEED HELP, DO NOT HESITATE! Colbrow Medics have highly trained personnel who are there to help, they will not judge you and they will not get you in trouble. Everyone on the Rainbow team, including security and police, prioritises your health, safety and wellbeing. WE ARE A COMMUNITY THAT CARES FOR EACH OTHER.
Never leave someone alone unwell. Let yourself or others be checked by medical instead of trying to ‘sleep it off’ alone. Is someone unresponsive or unconscious? ALWAYS CALL FOR MEDICAL ASSISTANCE and apply the recovery position (ie. lay a person on their side) until help has arrived.
Colbrow Medics works closely with DanceWize and the Women’s Space in The Nest. If you’re medically fit but in need of safety and care, you’ll get offered support from the services in The Nest. The Nest is open 24/7 during the festival. You can walk in for educational information and support relating to alcohol and other drugs, consent and (safe) sex or if you need a safe space at any time to retreat.
8. Practise and promote safe sex and consent
Be someone who asks, listens, and cares about consent. Consent is:
Active – Just because a partner didn’t say “no” doesn’t mean they have given consent. Ask, because only “YES” means “YES.”
Based on equal power – If someone is underage, drunk, asleep or in another vulnerable position, they CANNOT consent.
A choice – We must make sure our partners feel free to say “yes” or “no” without pressure. If we aren’t willing to take “no” for an answer, consent cannot happen.
A process – Consent requires ongoing conversations with lots of trust. Just because someone says yes to making out doesn’t mean they want to do anything else. You can change your mind at any time.
Practise safe sex! Sexual health supplies like condoms and lube are freely available in The Nest.
Don’t be a bystander! If you’re concerned about someone’s wellbeing or suspect someone is in a vulnerable situation, ask if they are OK and trust your instincts.
9. Love your ears
Loud music is nice as you can feel it flowing through your body. To ensure you will be able to enjoy this as long as possible in life, please use earplugs. Earplugs are freely available at DanceWize in The Nest (while stock last).
10. Don’t drive impaired!
NEVER DRINK OR TAKE OTHER DRUGS AND DRIVE. Never sit behind the wheel of a vehicle when under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, as your driving skills are impaired. Don’t consider driving if you are in any way fatigued or may even have traces of drugs in your bodily fluids. When leaving the festival, make sure you are well-rested, fed, hydrated, sober and have no traces of drugs in your bodily fluids (a minimum of 24, but more often closer to 72 hours is required before being fit to drive). Victoria Police will perform roadside breath and saliva tests to check for alcohol and traces of other drugs in your bodily fluids. Similar drug tests are offered on site by BMF, so you can get tested before you leave site. Ask at the Info Tent or in The Nest for more information.