A Public Health Concern: Summer Music Festivals

Summer often marks the reprisal of long-awaited music festivals that students have paid months in advance for to watch their favorite artists play live. While many hope for a fun weekend with friends, music festivals have increasingly become a public health concern. HARD Summer Music Festival took place about two weeks ago. As overwhelmingly fun as it was for about 147,000 festivalgoers, three people unfortunately died. Although their causes of death are unknown, at least 24 individuals have died due to drugs use at raves planned by L.A. area companies. This has become a growing public health concern due to growing popularity and crowds, the drug/alcohol culture of festivals and a lack of education on attendees and planners’ parts.


The music scene has become commonplace for recreational drug use. Although law enforcement has tightened over the past couple years, drug use while at these concert venues still occur. HARD Summer is no exception, with two overdoses that occurred this past year. Ecstasy is a drug commonly used by attendees which can cause fatal effects. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, ecstasy use can cause a sudden increase in an individual’s body temperature which can lead to death. In some cases, temperatures can reach as high as 109 degrees and cause organ failure. Although temperatures reached around 92 degrees both days that weekend, it is important not to drink too much water. Individuals taking drugs like ecstasy must be sure to distinguish their thirst from heat and drug use. However, drinking too much water could cause the opposite effect of an individual’s intent to stay hydrated. Instead, sodium levels could crash and an individual may go into a seizure, experiencing difficulty breathing. In addition, drug intake can also cause muscle breakdown, which turns into a chemical- that causes kidney failure. It is safe to say that recreational drug use is not as pleasurable as some people make it out to be, especially when things go awry. Large crowds and substance abuse also create an environment for increased sexual assaults and rapes. Sexual assaults at music festivals were in the news last month when over 50 cases, including 5 rapes, were reported at two music festivals in Sweden over one weekend.


Efficient event planning for a crowd as big of HARD Summer’s must also be enforced. Planners of festivals like HARD Summer must be more critical of crowd control, especially when first-responders are called to the scene. Alyssa Dominguez, 21, was among the three attendees who died at this most recent HARD Summer festival. It took about 15 minutes until an ambulance was able to tend to Dominguez due to traffic congestion, and by then, it was already too late. This tragedy could have been prevented with better planning for similar incidents. Whether it be having more first-responders stationed throughout the venue or improving traffic flow, it is important to be more critical after each casualty. HARD Summer did hold an online Q&A with on-site medical staff ahead of the festival. Notably, they let concert goers know that they will not get in trouble with law enforcement if they bring a friend to the medical tent. Despite helpful tips, it is unknown how many festival goers saw the post on their website prior to the event.


Education does not stop once summer starts. In cases like summer festivals, education continues and is even more crucial, especially since even goers’ health is at stake. Music festival attendees and individuals in charge of planning these events must take action to create a safe event where the crowd can enjoy the performances without risking their health, or in extreme cases, their life.

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