OPINION - Eight things you can do to stay safe and have fun at festivals this summer

Crowds at Glastonbury festival last year (Getty Images)
Crowds at Glastonbury festival last year (Getty Images)

Summer sees the UK’s festival season in full swing. Whether it's music, art or other cultural events, crowds gather in large numbers.

Of course, for the vast majority of those in attendance, festivals are about fun and good times. But they also present unique safety challenges that people should be mindful of. Here are some pointers people should take on board when attending large scale gatherings and festivals.

Plan ahead. Preparation, as ever, is key. Before setting off, make sure you have the necessary information about the event and try to familiarise yourself with the festival layout, looking at the exits, medical tents and security posts. It’s also wise to work out a designated meeting point with friends should you become separated — something that’s easily done at festivals.

Keep valuables safe. Theft at festivals is common, so keep your valuables secure. Don’t take anything unnecessary, and use a money belt or zipped bag to keep things close to you. Expensive jewellery and pricey gadgets are a magnet for thieves, so leave those at home. Alternatively look for festival ‘lockers’ to deposit things securely until you need them.

Stay hydrated and think of the elements. Summer means sunshine and dehydration, so drink plenty of water and take advantage of water refill stations using reusable bottles. Also remember sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses to avoid heatstroke. Conversely, prepare for rain too (we’re in the UK after all!), with waterproof clothing and appropriate footwear.

Be mindful of surroundings. Festivals are exciting but crowds can be overwhelming. Don’t get caught up in it, be aware of what’s around you and trust your instincts. If something feels off, don’t dismiss it. Stay in well-lit, populated areas and don’t wander off alone — especially at night. And if you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, don’t hesitate to seek help from festival staff or security.

Look out for one another. Not just friends, but fellow festivalgoers. They often foster a great sense of community so try to embody that if you see someone who seems unwell or distressed. Offer help or alert festival staff. Festivals are associated with partying and sometimes people take it too far ­— be that with alcohol or other substances — so keep an eye out for any concerning signs.

Festivals often foster a great sense of community so try to embody that if you see someone who seems unwell or distressed

Know your limits. If you’re not planning on staying sober, you need to know your limits. Alcohol and drugs are often part of the festival scene, but you need to stay in control. Excessive drinking or substance use can impair judgement and leave you vulnerable to accidents or exploitation. I would advise avoiding drugs entirely — you never know what you’re buying — but if you do choose to partake, make sure you have friends around you who can look out for you. Pace yourself, while remembering to eat and stay hydrated.

Use technology. Alongside traditional precautions, safeguarding apps such as imabi Community and imabi Guardian can help keep you safe. Allowing you to share your location with trusted contacts, you can keep track of each other’s whereabouts, while also having access to guidance and advice, with a reporting function allowing you to share concerns or contact help and support if needs be. Speaking of which…

Help and support. In an emergency you need to know where to turn for help. All festivals should have medical tents and security posts, with trained and dedicated staff. When you get to the festival, work out where these are in advance of an emergency — and don’t hesitate to approach them if in need. Most provide support for issues like mental health and substance misuse, so don’t be afraid to reach out.

Festivals are exciting, fun occasions designed for our enjoyment. But a little preparation goes a long way. Stay safe, be mindful, and enjoy the festival season to the fullest.

Mark Balaam is the chief executive and founder of imabi