What is a Festival Health+Safety Page?
This article is written for anyone involved in event production although it is great information for anyone that attends festivals as well.
A festival safety page is a webpage that may exist as a separate web page or tab on a event promoter or event producer's main production website or as a page that lives on a website for a specific event. For small events, this information can also exist on an event page created on a social media platform or other event specific or ticketing platform. Festival Health+Safety page should include the encouragement of festival attendees to make their own safety plan as well as communication of what the festival will be doing to keep attendees safe. These pages can be made in various ways but could be modeled similarly to this article.
START WITH INTENT
It can be good to start your safety page with a statement of intent. WHY are you creating this page? Tell your potential attendees. For instance, "We at ____X____ Festival take pride in creating a safe festival environment for you. This includes helping you make a safety plan for yourself before, during, and after the festival in addition to the amenities and services we provide at the festival to keep you safe and healthy."
ATTENDEE SAFETY PLAN
Attendee safety plans should include (but are not limted to) messaging about:
- Water/ Hydration
- Taking Breaks (Cool Down, Rest, Eat)
- Heat Stroke/ Thermoregulation
- Hearing and Sun Protection
- Buddy Systems + Meeting Spots
- Staying Aware
- Asking 4 Help
- Getting Home Safely
- Educating Yourself
PICTURES: CONSIDER IMPACT IN RELATION TO MESSAGES
As they say can speak a 1000 words. Ask yourself if the pictures associated with the topic talked about is the most appropriate picture that can be used.
The picture above was actually from a social media post relating to a safety message. The image on the right was created as an example of adding quick information to the visual. The point being made with the comparison is that if the image were to remain the same, that perhaps on social media the image should include words so people can easily see and retain the message on first glance, without having to read the post.
From an event safety page angle, this image should probably be changed. If you want people to take a break, you may want to show someone sitting down in a chill area and hydrating by drinking water or enjoying a coconut water (that replenishes electrolytes) or a sports drink.
So once images are chosen, review the images and ask if it best reflects the message you are trying to send.
COMMENTS ON SPECIFIC CONTENT RELATING TO WHAT YOU WANT ATTENDEES TO DO
Encouraging the dance music scene to take breaks should be of high importance so we encourage a culture of accountability amongst attendees. Hydrating is often closely intertwined with hydration. There is also the issue of over-hydration. Sometimes people need to step away from the heat created by dancing or being in the middle of a large crowd to bring their body temperature down. Taking breaks encourages hydration through water but also encourages electrolyte replenishment through electrolyte replacing beverages such as coconut water and sports drinks or through food.
It can also be important to discuss why we are encouraging attendees to take breaks. Part of the reason (aside from food and hydrations) is to reduce the body temperature be it from sun exposure or dancing for extended amounts of time to avoid potentially lethal issues of imbalanced thermoregulation and heatstroke. For more information about this, visit the DanceSafe site.
It is hugely important to encourage attendees to stay hydrated. However, they will not always know what that means. Care should be taken to encourage drinking electrolyte replacing beverages such as coconut water and sports drinks (or through replacement tabs that can be found at harm reduction booths). "Drinking lots of water" could also accidentally encourage attendees to "chug" water instead of sip which can throw off their electrolytes and lead to potentially dangerous situations. Attendees that partake in certain chemical substances often experience changes in their body's thermoregulation and need to take care to stay hydrated but not drink too much water and throw their electrolyte levels off. It is recommended by DanceSafe that water or electrolyte-replacing beverages are sipped at a pace of about one bottle per hour.
ITEMS THEY ARE ALLOWED TO BRING
If you are advising attendees to bring sunscreen, be specific to what they will be allowed to bring in so they do not get their bottles confiscated from security. Although we like seeing messaging about sunscreen, it is important to know that not all sunscreens are created equal. Some chemical sunscreens are being linked to skin cancer. You may want to message about choosing a "safer sunscreen" and link to the Environmental Working Guide's annual safer sunscreen report. This may encourage attendees on the fence about sunscreens to find, invest in, and thus wear one that will not cause collateral damage to their skin or to bodies of water that might be at the event. There is a new "reef safe" label that informs people of sunscreens that are less likely to harm biological life in the waters that they might be enjoying for an event.
Two more points about messaging about sunscreen. Sunscreen often needs to be re-applied so if your event is going to message about sunscreen application, it should be encouraged for them to use what they need for liberal application without being wasteful and to encourage that they reapply it several times during their sun exposure hours as it wears off when going into waters or with (dance) sweat. Other forms of sun protection which would be encouraging attendees to reduce their exposure to the sun by taking breaks in shaded chill out areas or to perhaps consider dressing for sun exposure and covering up with hats, scarves, UV filtering clothes, or breathable but covering clothing.
Sometimes we are appreciative that some of us wear some type of deodorant. Some people have more mixed reviews about the effectiveness of natural deodorants. However, care should be taken to not encourage antiperspirants as perspiration is a way for the body to naturally control the temperature (or thermoregulation) of the body. If you are feeling inspired, you do have the opportunity to talk about natural or DIY options. If you choose this route, make sure that it will be approved that they can bring this option into the event.
Although earplugs and condoms may be offered at events, these are also items you may want to message attendees into bringing themselves. Free earplugs that are offered at events are often spongey and distort sound which may impede the desire to protect their hearing. A statement could be made if you are offering high-quality speakers at your event that you consider hearing protection, however, it could also be mentioned high-fidelity earplugs that turn the decibels down but do not distort sound exist and might be a good investment. These earplugs start around $15. Condoms may also be an item you encourage attendees to bring (especially to camping festivals) so they attendees are prepared and don't have to go to a booth if they are presented with a consensual opportunity to explore their sensual nature.
Although we typically think of attendee safety, environmental safety (especially for certain outdoor and potentially biologically sensitive locations) should be considered. Glitter is made of tiny plastic particles and could be banned, discouraged, or asked that attendees only use biodegradable glitter that is bought within the festival (for control purposes). Similar rules could be applied to say, sunscreen, and also feathers. For the most part, most industries have been built in such a way that they are currently not environmentally friendly so think of your audience before you get too stringent with rules.
Make sure you specify what sizes will be allowed in for items on your list.
WATCHING OUT FOR OTHERS
BUDDY SYSTEMS AND MEETING SPOTS
It can be easy to lose people at any event and especially larger events. We recommend for mid-size to large events that messaging about buddy systems and establishing a meeting spot be addressed for both during the festival as well as when the event ends. For smaller events, you might recommend that people download or use an established app. For larger events, you could encourage people to use your own app if it has location capabilities. This can also be part of your messaging for "Getting Home Safe" where you might discuss options for the attendee (public transportation) including those that you will be offering for them (contracted transportation services).
STAYING AWARE AND ASKING FOR HELP
We encourage messaging about attendees staying aware during the festival of what might not "be right" and reporting or asking for help in such situations (a "see something, say something" policy). Asking for help should be encouraged for personal issues of the attendee or even asking for help on behalf of someone else that looks like they could use some kind of assistance.
DOING THEIR PART IN CLEANING UP
Although we often have dedicated teams that clean up after people, sometimes attendees will still slip on water bottles or get burnt by cigarette butts in front of packed stages or grounds that have not yet been cleaned up. Consider messaging your attendees about placing items in the appropriate container and for them to consider picking up "MOOP" (matter out of place) to prevent someone else’s injury. The Festival Guy (Tucker Gumber) has a policy he encourages of festival attendees to not just "leave no trace" but to "leave no trace + 1", meaning to pick up everything after themselves and also someone else who was not as considerate. This is part of watching out for one another and will help us build a culture of accountability with the attendees.
WHAT ARE YOU (THE FESTIVAL) PROVIDING THE ATTENDEES?
The festival safety page provides you the opportunity to tell the attendees what health and safety amenities you are offering. This can range from chill out areas, specific vendors, harm reduction efforts including wandering teams or booths to visit where water, electrolytes, earplugs, condoms, and health and safety advice are offered.
It will also be important to inform your attendees of any technology you have invested in that benefits them, be it an app or the actual medical facilities in case there is an injury or emergency.
Let them know how they can find all safety information when they get to the festival (information booths, signs, maps). Consideration should also be given to messaging about how you will take care of attendees in case of a major incident.
There in terms of psychological safety, there is the safety you are creating through culture you are developing year round as well as the psychological safety services that you might be offering at the event. Many harm reduction organizations that you could invite to your event (or choose to organize yourself) may include psychological care. On-site psychological care services are for people having a "difficult time" due to a substance that may be altering their normal perspective (alcohol included) or due to emotions. Psychological care could be at a harm reduction booth and be part of a broader range of services or it could be a separate area (such as Zendo project). Psychological services that are separate are sometimes used as an intermediate area for people who need space away from the festival but are not in need of medical care. These areas can be for people that are experiencing difficult "trips", sober areas, or areas that are designated to separate the sexes. We recommend that if you have a women's area, that you might also create a men's area.
We will end this article with the claim that the creation of a culture of psychological safety can start with the health and safety page. As these pages can live on the main event producer's site, they can be information portals that are available year-round to set the expectation of behavior for attendees. It is here where policies regarding Consent (see DanceSafe resources), Cultural Appropriation (concerning for instance War Bonnets), and Education about substance use can be discussed or links provided to further the exploration of your future attendees.
Questions? Contact us!