With a city festival or ball game scheduled for nearly every weekend this summer, you are probably looking forward to the music, food and festivities — but the crowds may be another story.
Check out these tips from Dr. Maria Omiotek, a family medicine physician at Swedish Covenant Hospital, on how to prepare for the crowds in advance so you can have a great time.
1. Stick to the plan: Decide on a place to meet at a specific time or if someone gets separated. A mobile phone seems like the easy solution, but Chicago festivals get loud, batteries fail and when it’s really crowded, signal towers can reach max capacity so calls can’t go through.
2. Water, water everywhere: Never leave home without a water bottle. If you forget or the venue does not allow you to bring bottles, buy a bottle — it’s worth the expense. Dehydration increases risk of kidney failure and stroke, among other conditions. For adults drinking alcoholic beverages, try to drink a cup of water for every drink.
3. Stay cool on the outside: For every hour you are in the sun, rest and find shade for 10 minutes. Wearing comfortable cotton clothing that breathes can keep your skin cool. Your clothes should protect your skin from sunburn, so T-shirts and hats are better than tank tops and flip flops.
4. Stay cool on the inside: Staying cool is not just about controlling your temperature, but your emotions as well. A fear of crowds, getting lost or any number of things can overwhelm you if you let them. The key is to stay cool and collected. If you are getting stressed, find a shady, cool place, sit down and take deep breaths.
5. Healthy habits: The venue may be overflowing with people, but there a million times more germs present. Protect yourself by avoiding crowds so thick that you make skin contact with people around you. Also, carry hand sanitizer and apply often. If you are sick, skip the event until you have recovered.
6. Apply, and reapply: UV rays from the sun can damage your skin very quickly, and your first line of defense is sunscreen. Even on cloudy days, use at least SPF 30 — higher numbers if you are fair skinned. Also, don’t forget to protect your corneas, the delicate skin in your eye, with sunglasses — they do burn.
7. Power up and pack up: Before you go out, charge your mobile phone batteries so you always have it in case of an emergency. Carry your belongings in a backpack, rather than a purse or bag. A backpack is the most comfortable to carry all day because its weight is evenly distributed on your back and shoulders.
8. Safeguard your stuff: Be sure that nothing is hanging loose from your clothing or your backpack that may fall out or get pick-pocketed. Instead of carrying your wallet in a back pocket, try your front pocket or a money belt which is worn under your clothes.
This article was originally printed in Well magazine, the precursor to this site, in May 2009. Written and edited by the editorial staff of Well magazine and Well Community.
Photo by Iwona Biederman.