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Don't make it a Big Day Ouch. . . here's all you need to know for BDO 2011

Thursday 27 January, 2011 by Cairín

The largest and most-attended music festival on the Australian summer circuit is about to hit Melbourne and festival fever is at an all time high!

The festival gods have certainly smiled upon the Big Day Out (BDO) tour as the show has grown bigger and bigger over the years. In 2010, the BDO saw over 50,000 people spill into Flemington Racecourse. That same year over 400 patients were presented to St John Ambulance volunteers.

So when music festivals turn ugly, how do you avoid a health emergency? SunSmart joins forces with St John Ambulance to help you get the most out of your Big Day Out. Here are our top tips...

Keep your cool

Crowded summer festivals often leave you sweatier than after a serious session at the gym. The extreme heat and high level of ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun can result in dehydration, sunstroke and sunburn. In fact, half of all injuries presented at St John Ambulance last year were heat and UV-related.

Dr Stephen Luke, St John State Operations Coordinator and Emergency Doctor, advises festival-goers; "In summer and especially at outdoor music festivals, heat and UV-related emergencies are going to be a problem. Many people can avoid these injuries by keeping out of the sun where possible, wearing sunscreen, a hat and staying hydrated."

"While enjoying the music, don't forget to stay on top of your water intake. Dance marquees are especially hot and this is where people tend to collapse. About 600mL of water every hour (sipping is better than sculling) is recommended to keep hydrated. There is free drinking water available at the event. And keep in mind, alcohol, energy drinks and drinks high in sugar can increase dehydration," says Dr Luke.

Be sun-savvy!

UV radiation is at extreme levels and it takes only 11 minutes in the sun to get burnt at this time of year.

SunSmart Manager, Ms Sue Heward, emphasises that: "Sunscreen is as essential as your ticket for BDO. Apply it 20 minutes before leaving the house and bring a lightweight jacket with you to cover up, a hat that covers the face, neck and eyes and sunnies to protect your eyes."

Another tip is to find a shaded area to catch up with friends during breaks between bands and join the hat revolution! It opens up a whole new meaning to the word - ‘accessorise.'

If you have an iPhone you can download the free SunSmart app - it tells you when you the times of the day when you need sun protection so know exactly when you need to slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen, slap on a hat, seek shade and slide on some sunglasses.

Wear reliable dancing shoes

St John statistics also show that around 20% of patients at last years BDO were treated for foot injuries and lacerations.

"You'd be amazed how many people get foot injuries at dance festivals. A sensible, yet stylish pair of shoes will keep you on your feet all day!" Says Dr Luke.

So give thongs a miss and your feet will thank you tomorrow.

Party responsibly

Alcohol and drugs are commonplace at festivals. Don't leave your drink unattended and pace yourself if you are drinking. We know how good it can feel to let go every once and a while but losing control of yourself and endangering your health just isn't worth it!

Dr Luke says: "We know that some people choose to take drugs and whilst this is never completely safe, it is important that you and your friends know what to do if anything goes wrong."

Eat up!

Eat a big meal before you arrive and don't forget to eat during the day - you'll need energy for all those dance moves. It's also a good idea to decide on a budget for food, drinks, water and the ride home before you go to the festival - and stick to it!

On the day

Arrive early - check out the festival map for first aid, toilets and designated free water areas. Decide on a landmark to meet your friends at the end of the day in case you get separated. Carry a tube of sunscreen and keep applying it regularly.

Most importantly have a great time and look after each other. If you need help during the day, St John are there to help so don't be shy!

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