With festival season here, I would like to talk about responsibility. Webster’s Dictionary defines responsibility as, “the opportunity or ability to act independently and make decisions without authorization, and the fact of being accountable for something.” The responsibility lies with all of us to make sure that we are educated and knowledgeable in everything we do. Many deaths at festivals all over the world can easily be prevented with some proper education and harm reduction tools.
Let’s take a quick look at music festivals, and the serious issues we are facing at all of them to make them safer for everyone.
The leading cause of injuries and deaths at music festivals of all types is dehydration and heat stroke, followed by people being trampled. No matter what, one of our most basic needs as humans is fresh water. Between the summer heat during the day and dancing/moshing in a large crowd, you become very dehydrated and lose electrolytes very very quickly. That makes for an extremely harsh environment.
Thankfully more and more festivals are starting to allow hydration packs and providing free water stations, but that is not enough. We need more water stations, tents with electrolytes (powder, fresh fruit, Gatorade, etc), well thought out exits and pits, cooling stations/shade tents, as well as drug education and drug testing tents like DanceSafe. Some of those can be seen as “promoting drug use” under the R.A.V.E. Act of 2003 which can be punishable by law with fines up to $250,000. This law broadened the government’s jurisdiction on the dance music industry, and is targeted mainly towards drug education and drug testing at events. Basic needs such as fresh water, electrolytes, shaded “cool off” spots, harm reduction tools, etc. should be mandated and enforced by our governing systems not restricted by it.
Harm reduction tents like DanceSafe are essential in helping to prevent drug related injuries and death. With their onsite testing kits, they are able to help identify what was sold to you to prevent an accidental overdose on unknown substances. According to the 2014 World Drug Report, the United States has the highest percent of illicit drug use. We should look to the countries that have already decriminalized all illicit drugs and focused on education rather than incarceration. The Netherlands have seen a drastic fall in crime, drug use, and drug related deaths since decriminalization.
There are 2.3 million people incarcerated and over 500,000 of those drug related in America. That’s over $15.6 billion that we can put into educating people about drugs and rehabilitating those who truly desire to quit. Educating our youth on what to do if they are ever in a particular situation is far more effective. Shying away from the subject completely just leaves people in the dark. Just saying that’s it’s a terrible, illegal thing that you should never do, doesn’t help anybody. Not being properly educated on the effects of certain drugs and the need to stay cool, hydrated, and the need for electrolytes in those situations, leads to the deaths of too many young people today.
Educating ourselves is the main key to your safety. With non-profit sites like Erowid or organizations like DanceSafe that have been around since the 90’s to provide information and harm reduction tools at your fingertips, there is no excuse for not educating ourselves. Somewhere along the way we dropped the second R in PLURR and forgot all about Responsibility for ourselves. It’s about time we find that R and put the Responsibility back in PLURR.