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How to Stay Hydrated and Beat the Heat at AthFest

Water slides at KidsFest can help children cool off. Credit: Emily Eckert

AthFest weekend is upon us again, and the local music festival is sure to be a blast. Featuring great music, shopping, food and other fun activities, AthFest also takes place outside in the hot June sun, carrying the risk of sunburn, heat exhaustion and other heat-related health issues.

With rising global temperatures, heat has become increasingly dangerous to human health. In the U.S., an average of 700 people a year die from heat, and more than 67,000 emergency room visits a year are attributed to heat related illnesses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Knowing how to take care of yourself and others in the heat is important for having a safe, fun time at an outdoor festival.

• Drink plenty of water and avoid excessive drinking the day before the festival.

• Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing that breathes well. Black leather looks cool, but it’s not so cool in hot temperatures, notes AthFest Event Coordinator Peter Norris. He also suggests bringing a hat, applying sunscreen and drinking a glass of water before you leave home.

• Make sure you know where to find water, shade, misting tents and medical help at the festival.

“The key to enjoying AthFest is to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate,” says Norris. “Drink water before you are thirsty.” 

There are plenty of places to find water throughout the festival. Water coolers are continuously refilled and located at every festival beer tent, as well as the kids activity tent. This year, you can also fill up at Athens-Clarke County’s WaterMonster water dispenser on Washington Street, just west of Hull Street. Most bars and pub crawl venues also keep water coolers in easily accessible locations so patrons can easily grab a cup of water even when lines are long for a drink at the bar.

• Bring a reusable water bottle so you always have water on hand. Sip often and early. Thirst is a sign that you’re already dehydrated.

• Monitor your urine, especially if you’re drinking alcohol. If you’re well hydrated, you should be using the restroom about every two hours, and your pee should be light yellow in color, according to Mayo Clinic Health System experts. If it’s darker in color, similar to apple juice, you need to drink more water.

• Limit alcohol consumption and drink water. If you are drinking, try to drink a glass of water for each alcoholic drink you consume, at minimum.

An outdoor festival like AthFest is a marathon, not a sprint. “Take a break from the heat,” says Norris. “Sit in the shade and soak in the scene for a while.” 

Need to cool down? Find a nearby restaurant or venue to get a reprieve from the sun and cool down in the AC. You can also bring your own portable fan or misting device or find your way to one of the festival’s two misting stations—one at the corner of Hull and Washington streets, and the other in the KidsFest area, which also has inflatable water slides. Parents and kids are invited to cool down at the free KidsFest Dance Party in the air conditioned Georgia Theatre on Saturday from 1–3 p.m., Norris added.

The AthFest medical and first aid tent is located at the corner of Washington and Hull streets and is staffed by volunteers from the Georgia Medical Reserve Corps. “If you are not feeling well, let your partner or friends know and have them assist you to the first aid tent. An ambulance, when available, will be stationed at Washington and Pulaski, next to the Wicked Weed Stage,” says Norris.

If you have a medical emergency and are unable to get yourself or someone else to the first aid tent, notify an AthFest staff member (wearing a maroon staff T-shirt), an ACC police officer or call 911. Do your best to make the person comfortable and reassure him/her/them that help is on the way.

Dogs are also susceptible to heat-related illnesses, and hot pavement can burn their paws. AthFest strongly recommends leaving furry friends at home.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention