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Hundreds of thousands of people attend music festivals and events throughout the warmest months of the year and most of them have a great time and experience no problems, except perhaps for a bit of mud and a little rain!
The ones who aren’t so lucky have usually provided an opportunity for a crime to be committed against them and so this short guide is simply a collection of things that we know will make a difference.
Do take heed, because to have your (maybe first) experience of an open air festival ruined by some scumbag is not the memory you want to be left with:
- Don’t start too soon: Drinking too much on the way to the event could mean that the security won’t let you in, ruining your day even before it’s started!
- Beware of rounds: Drinking in rounds often means keeping pace with the fastest drinker in your group and a nightmare if you’re trying to cut down on alcohol. Stay in control (and save cash) by opting for smaller rounds with only a couple of friends within your group or giving rounds a miss. Agree this with a couple of friends at the beginning of the event and don’t be worried about saying that you can’t keep up with the one who drinks like a drain
- Eat up: Having a good meal and snacking between drinks can help slow down the absorption of alcohol, helping you stay in control. (Recently, my friends and I have been going to a restaurant around 7pm before going to the pub. With a full stomach we’ve found that you simply don’t drink as much as doing it the other way round)
- Small is better: Make the daily unit guidelines go further by having bottles of beer or halves instead of pints and choosing a smaller glass for your wine. Buying spritzers or shandies will also help. (A pint of bitter shandy is my saviour on a late night out. With a pint in the hand I don’t feel like the odd one out and enjoy myself just as much.)
- Pace yourself: Sipping a soft drink between alcoholic drinks slows down the rate of your drinking and helps prevent dehydration. If you’re out in the strong sun drink plenty of water. Opt for a non-alcoholic alternative, soft drink or even a glass of water for a change.
- Remember the event: Drinking to a sensible limit leaves you in control and you’ll have free recall of the events the following day. Drinking to excess can make you unpopular amongst your friends and the new people you might meet, and has a tendency to wipe your memory of the behaviour that led to your unpopularity. Not at all cool!
- Be aware of your surroundings, stay close to your friends and be alert to what is going on around you
- Be discreet with your belongings. Don’t display valuable jewellery, which might attract the wrong sort of attention
- Although you’ll want to take photos, send messages and make calls keep your wits about you at all times when using your phone and camera and look out for each other
- Avoid walking and using your phone at the same time – you may not agree, but your brain is only good at doing one thing at a time!
- If you can leave the bag at home, excellent! If you need it keep it zipped up, carry it close to the body and to the front of you; not over your shoulder or on your back. Think about taking a bum-bag instead
- Carry purses and wallets in front pockets if you have them, otherwise make sure they’re not visible
- Agree a meeting place with your friends and or family so you can meet up again should you get separated
- At one-day events many people bring camping tables and chairs. Although it is unlikely that such property will be stolen when left unattended it is always wise to visibly mark the items as described in the next section. If you leave your picnic place to get closer to the stage make sure you take your money and other valuables with you! (I've noticed that some people are now marking their nests of tables and chairs with a flag to help them find their way back - seems like a good idea!)
When camping at an event
- Only bring with you what you can afford to lose. There is no way to make a tent secure, so only bring what you absolutely need. Use on-site lock-ups, if available
- Don’t be tempted to leave valuables in your vehicle. Empty the glove box and leave it open to show thieves there is nothing of value inside
- Don’t challenge people looking through tents. Report them to event security, staff or police immediately
- Keep cash and possessions on you. Don’t keep all your money, bank cards and valuables together. Keep them in different pockets
- Don’t leave your backpack or handbag unattended in or around the tent
- Before going to sleep, place valuables in a bag and hide it in your sleeping bag with you
- Camp near friends. Introduce yourself to people in the neighbouring tents to build a community feeling and provide greater security around your tent
- Mark your property. Label your belongings, including your tent, with your house number and postcode. Thieves are after unidentifiable property. Make sure the markings are obvious and indelible. Before the event, register property such as mobile phones and cameras for free at www.immobilse.com. This will help the police to return stolen items to their rightful owner
- Protect your mobile phone. Do this now: on your mobile phone, key in *#06# and your unique International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number will be displayed. Make a note of this number so that if your phone is lost or stolen you can contact your service provider to have the phone disabled. While on site keep your phone in a buttoned or zipped pocket, a secure bag, or use a lanyard to keep it secured to your clothing
- Report crime at the time. There will be security officers at all events and often police officers as well
- Have a great time, but don’t drink so much that you lose your grip on reality, your phone and your money!
Updated May 2015