Doctor issues warning over potential Glastonbury heatwave

Glastonbury festival is around the corner. (Getty Images)
Glastonbury festival is around the corner. (Getty Images)

The first day of summer is upon us, and the weather is finally looking up. The Met Office has forecast some seriously sunny weather in the coming days, much to the delight of Britons up and down the country.

Crucially, the good summer weather is expected to continue into the latter half of next week (Wednesday 26 June to Sunday 30 June), when Glastonbury Festival is due to take place on Worthy Farm.

Highs of 28°C to 29° C are expected by Wednesday, which would mark some of the highest temperatures so far this year.

But while a heatwave might be welcome after an unusually cold and damp spring, very high temperatures are less than ideal for a five-day festival, where more than 200,000 people will gather to camp and listen to some of the biggest musicians in the world.

Dr Donald Grant, GP and Senior Clinical Advisor at The Independent Pharmacy, warns that attendees must understand the risks of heat-related illnesses and how to avoid these conditions.

Here are his top tips for Glastonbury revellers to manage the heat:

Flipflops, wellies, bed roll, sunglasses etc for camping at a music festival
Packing the right clothes can make all the difference at a festival. (Getty Images)

"Preparation for a safe festival starts in the packing stage," Dr Grant says. "With careful planning and consideration, festival-goers can come prepared for the warm weather, reducing the likelihood of falling ill with dehydration or heatstroke.

"I recommend packing handheld fans to help regulate temperatures while amongst the crowd. These devices can be a lifesaver, providing quick and easy relief from the surging temperatures. A refillable water bottle is essential for maintaining healthy hydration levels throughout the day."

However, it’s not just the daytime temperatures you have to think about. As the sun goes down and the temperature drops, the fields can become very cold, so ensure you also pack some heavier clothing for the nighttime.

Another essential item to pack is suncream, which is vital for avoiding sunburn and heat exhaustion.

"As a general rule, suncream should be reapplied every two hours, but this could be more frequent at a festival where sweating is more excessive."

Drinking alcohol is the norm for many festival-goers, but it’s really important to stay regularly hydrated and not to drink alcohol the entire time. This is because alcohol "significantly impacts hydration in a number of ways, including increasing the need for urination and leading to an electrolyte imbalance," Dr Grant warns.

"Hot weather combined with alcohol can increase the speed of dehydration exponentially, therefore, it’s crucial to manage water intake to avoid falling ill and missing out on the festival fun. While it’s easy to get carried away at these events, prioritising hydration is one of the key ways to remain safe in a heatwave.

"Long periods of sun exposure can have a detrimental effect on hydration. While it can be difficult to find shade at a festival, it’s best to try and find locations with less sun when you’re not attending a musician's set."

Festivalgoers during the hot weather at the Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm in Somerset. Picture date: Sunday June 25, 2023. (Photo by Ben Birchall/PA Images via Getty Images)
Make sure you bring a cap and a fan if the weather is going to be hot. (Getty Images)

What you wear has a major effect on how your body regulates heat, so make sure you have the right clothing for the weather. Dr Grant suggests opting for light, loose-fitting clothing, as this will help reduce the likelihood of sweating and slowing down dehydration.

"A hat and sunglasses are also incredibly useful for protecting against the sun and staying cool, and keeping a cool head can help protect against heat stroke," he adds. "Dressing appropriately during a heatwave helps protect health, enhances comfort and ensures attendees can enjoy the festival safely."

Be aware of the symptoms of heat-related illnesses, Dr Grant advises. This will help you better understand the conditions, or avoid them entirely.

"Symptoms of dehydration include dizziness, increased thirst, a dry mouth, and dark yellow-coloured urine and can be caused by a lack of water and excessive sweating. This is why it’s so important to seek shade and prioritise fluid intake, to avoid falling ill with dehydration, which can lead to other heat-related conditions.

"Dehydration can also be brought on by illness – diarrhoea can reduce the electrolyte balance and hydration levels in the body. To avoid this, over-the-counter treatments such as Dioralyte Sachets can be used to substantially replace fluids and electrolytes lost to illness, helping fight off dehydration.

"Heat stroke is another condition to be aware of at Glastonbury as temperatures rise. This is an incredibly dangerous heat-related illness that can be fatal. I recommend anyone suffering from heat stroke to seek medical attention at the event.

"Symptoms of heat stroke include high body temperature, altered behaviour, nausea, rapid heart rate and headache. Avoiding long periods of sun exposure and managing water intake is the most effective way to reduce the likelihood of experiencing this dangerous condition.

"Overall, by dressing appropriately, managing hydration and packing essentials, festival attendees can enjoy the magic of Glastonbury without developing any heat-related illnesses."

Watch: UK heatwave: How to keep your home (and yourself!) cool in the hot weather

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