Dehydration, falls biggest health risks at Riverbend

Dehydration, falls biggest health risks at Riverbend

June 16th, 2011 by Holly Leber in Life Entertainment

Riverbend is nine days of music and fun each June, but it's also nine days of potential for injury.

Tony Reavley and Tony Sylvester, both of Hamilton County Emergency Services, say the most common health issues they see at the festival are dehydration, sun-related illnesses and injuries resulting from poor footwear.

"Every year, one of the primary concerns is heat-related emergencies [particularly dehydration]," Sylvester said.

Sylvester said that people who aren't accustomed to spending a lot of time outside are more susceptible. Symptoms of dehydration, he said, range from moderate lightheadedness to stomachache and can become a true emergency if not treated.

Preventing dehydration is simple: Stay hydrated, even if you're not thirsty.

"Once you say 'Oh, I'm terribly thirsty,' you're kind of [behind the] eight ball already," he said. "You need to be drinking. Just sip on water. Stay hydrated prior to the event, during the event and especially after the event."

Reavley suggested increasing water intake even a couple of days in advance of an outdoor event. Both men recommend water over sodas or iced tea, which contain a high volume of sugar and caffeine, they said.

And a cold beer, while refreshing, is not suitable, they said, to relieve thirst.

"Alcohol will dehydrate you very quickly," Sylvester said. "Your body metabolizes it differently."

Too much boozing can also contribute to another common Riverbend problem - twisted ankles and foot injuries - though Reavley and Sylvester believe the primary culprit to be bad footwear.

"We see a lot of high heels and boots, and we'll see a lot of twisted ankles, falls, cuts and scrapes," Sylvester said.

The solution? Wear appropriate footwear, which he suggests as being a sneaker or tennis shoe. Even flip-flops, he said, can be loose fitting and cause blisters or foot discomfort.

Ultimately, both men said, staying safe and healthy at Riverbend is quite easy with a little preparation.

"A lot of folks aren't used to being outside for a long period of time," Reavely said. So prepare, they said: Wear the right shoes. Drink plenty of water. Eat, to avoid blood sugar issues. Bring a chair if you can't stand for a long time. Wear sunscreen. If you take medication, bring it with you.

"It's a lot of common sense stuff," Sylvester said. "Come and have a good time, but the fact that it's a festival doesn't negate all the normal, everyday things that can happen to you."