Jaw-dropping outfits, money, condoms and sunscreen aren't the only essentials you should be taking to a festival this season. Knowing what to do when you or someone else shows signs of overdoing it could save a life – maybe yours.
Here are a few things you should know to stay safe while partying with your mates.
That awkward talk
Talk to your mates about what you'll do in an emergency. If you or they have had a bad experience in the past, share what happened including the feelings and symptoms, so you know what to look out for.
Decode the signs
Get familiar with the signs of overdoing it. If you or someone else is feeling any of these, it's time to get help immediately from the medical team, they'll be roaming the festival looking out for you:
- Hot and can't cool down
- Rigid muscles, tremors or spasms
- Clenched jaw or gurning
- Confusion, disorientation or frightened
- Difficulty walking
- Severe agitation, panicky, paranoid or anxious
- Light headed / dizzy or have a bad headache
- Vomiting repeatedly
- Breathing fast or having trouble breathing
You won't get into trouble for getting help.
The medical staff and peer support teams like
DanceWize NSW, Save-a-mate, ACON and Red Frogs are at festivals to look after you, not bust you.
Even if you think it's not serious, if you feel unwell just get checked out and if someone tells you they're feeling unwell – believe them and get help fast.
It's HOT, pass the water
When the sun's out and temperatures are high it can be easy to overheat even without alcohol or other drugs. Overheating through sun exposure or using up lots of energy dancing, is especially dangerous if taking illicit substances like MDMA. MDMA interrupts your body's cooling down mechanism, meaning your body will create more heat than it can get rid of.
- If you're dancing, cool down every so often – chill out tents and zones are perfect for this and are usually not far from the action,
- If the sun's out or the temperature's high, find some shade and cool off as much as possible. Wearing a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen when the sun's out is obviously a must.
Getting enough water is vital but there are some hard and fast rules around the amount you can take while on MDMA. Too much in one go can disrupt your balance of electrolytes – which can be fatal. Too little can lead to dangerous levels of dehydration.
To avoid dehydration or overhydrating follow these instructions:
- Sip, don't gulp. Slowly drink (sip) 500ml over an hour if you're dancing and 250ml per hour if you're not moving around, even if you're not thirsty. (A regular water bottle is around 600ml and a large plastic cup at a festival is around 375mL).
For further tips for staying safe at festivals visit
stayok.nsw.gov.au for a pre-festival safety checklist including information about how to put someone in the recovery position, drug safety and overdose information and more.
For free and confidential advice 24/7 call Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS) on 1800 250 015. Counsellors are available to provide information, referrals, crisis counselling and support. Or start a Web Chat with an ADIS counsellor online Monday to Friday, 8.30am – 5pm.