05/09/2016 | John Brennan

Festival season: What can we learn?

festivals

05/09/2016 | John Brennan

Festival season: What can we learn?

Can you hear that? It’s the sound of festival goers across the country as the season comes to an end – crying it’s over, whilst at the same time breathing a sigh of relief at their bank accounts which can now take a momentary rest. Thousands of music fans enjoy the vast array of festivals on offer each summer (some of Shieldyourself team included), and this year is no different. One thing that has been notable this time round however, has been the increase in the amount of safety issues that have been brought to our attention in the media. Read on for a look back at the events over the summer, which offer a sobering lesson to us all.

Wristband revelations

The festival wristband is a staple at any event, from the small and local casual affair to the legendary week-long celebrations. A recent post from Buzzfeed highlighted just how precious these little bits of material can be, encouraging people to keep their wristbands on long after the music stops, as a memento . However, those of you (ok..us) who keep your bands on after the fun is over are unknowingly carrying round a huge amount of bacteria. As if the post-festival hangover wasn’t enough to deal with, ScienceDump turned stomachs nationwide by sharing the results of a study conducted at the University of Surrey by Dr Allison Cottell. ‘Dr. Cottell studied two wristbands that one person had been wearing for two years and found there to be a concentration of around 9,000 micrococci and 2,000 staphylococci bacteria on them’.

Health & Safety takes the stage

As mentioned in our blog, Health & Safety quite often plays a key part in public events and festivals are no exception. Mysterious singer Sia was delayed from her performance at last weekend’s V Festival due to high winds causing a ‘huge setpiece’ to be a danger. The singer herself acknowledged the risk that a piece of her elaborate stage posed by tweeting ‘We would hate to crush anybody so couldn’t risk it toppling over!’ “Chandelier” fans were not disappointed when she eventually was able to perform, despite Mother Nature’s best attempt.

The worst possible tragedies

Moving on to the events that showed the darker side of festival fun, three music-lovers devastatingly passed away at some of the country’s biggest events this year. 18-year-old Olivia ‘Livvy’ Christopher from Chesham, Buckinghamshire, was found unconscious in her tent during Boom Town festival on 15th August. Sadly the teenager is the fourth person to die at the festival which has previously been described as ‘controversial’ by some outlets. Her death is not being treated as suspicious but Hampshire Police investigations are ongoing. The same day, a car park blaze also broke out destroying 80 cars. Due to the events of the summer event, Boom Town organisers have decided not to hold their Winter Event this year.

The August Bank Holiday weekend, which typically signals the end of the festival season, brought news of a double heartbreak this year with the passing of two attendees at Leeds Festival and Creamfields..

Whilst enjoying the weekend in Leeds that The Guardian describes as a ‘rite of passage’ for post GCSE and A-Level students, 17 year-old Lewis Haunch was rushed to hospital by ambulance from the event and passed away on Saturday night. The ‘innocent and kind’ teenager is thought he collapsed ‘immediately’ after taking an illegal substance.

26-year-old married dad Joe Sheppard is reported to have suffered breathing difficulties whilst in his tent at Creamfields on Friday. Tragically he passed away, despite the best efforts of paramedics.

The pair are being reported as being ‘killed by drugs’, although no post-mortem results have been released as of yet.

Paramount concern

Most festivals, including Leeds Festival, have detailed pages on their websites emphasising that safety is of primary concern to the organisers and that illegal substances will not be tolerated. Despite this, evidence shows that many choose to ignore this advice – with some devastating repercussions.

Kendal Calling went one step further this year and had a tent where partygoers could have their illegal drugs tested to ensure people’s safety. The tents are run by not-for-profit Community Interest Company, The Loop. With their motto ‘Crush Dab Wait Save Lives’ motto, the organisation – alongside welfare company Chill -, have cared for hundreds of festival goers at recent music events. Chris Brady, weekend volunteer for The Loop, says “We’re very realistic that people do take drugs, and what we want is to keep people safe,” Brady says. “We don’t want any mothers getting a call at 4 in the morning, saying that their son or daughter is ill, or even worse.”

Following this summer, festival organisers are set to face even further scrutiny on all the safety measures they have in place.

The information contained in this blog article has been created for marketing purposes and is not official guidance and should not be used as a substitute for official food safety, health and safety or fire safety advice. Shieldyourself take no responsibility if the information in the blog article is used to form part of a safety management system or used to form part of any legal or regulatory compliance for your business. For official guidance and to engage with Shieldyourself services please do call our team on 020 3740 3744.