Sweltering temperatures will continue to hover in the mid-90s as nearly 200,000 concert goers descend on Middle Tennessee to fill Bonnaroo and the CMA Music Fest. Alcohol can intensify the consequences of exposure to the heat, doctors say.
Already, during the Wednesday afternoon and evening events at the CMA Music Fest, the staff of LifeFlight Event Medicine treated 30 victims for heat exposure, with three of these individuals requiring further hospital treatment.
Jared McKinney, M.D., assistant professor of Emergency Medicine and Medical Director of LifeFlight Event Medicine, warns that alcohol worsens dehydration, although it may feel cold and refreshing at the time.
“We want fans to have a great time at these festivals, but be careful when it comes to alcohol consumption,” McKinney said. “If people choose to drink alcohol we encourage them to do so in moderation. Given the extreme heat that is expected, heat exhaustion is a significant concern and is caused by dehydration.”
Dehydration can lead to impaired judgment and lack of recognition of the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion. Alcohol intake can lead to impaired judgment and lack of recognition of the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion. Further, it also can interfere with the body’s ability to sweat which is a natural cooling mechanism.
The first step toward treating heat-related illness is to cool the body and infuse appropriate fluids for re-hydration, which means alcohol should not be consumed in lieu of water or electrolyte-replacing sports drinks.
As a preventive measure, people should drink water even if they don’t feel thirsty. By the time one feels thirsty, they are often already dehydrated.
In addition to hydration, Vanderbilt offers these additional tips to prevent heat-related illnesses:
• Avoid intense outdoor activity from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., the hottest part of the day
• Rest frequently in the shade when outdoors
• Wear light-colored and lightweight clothing
• Cover up — wear a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen of 15 SPF or greater
Vanderbilt’s LifeFlight Event Medicine team will have first aid tents set up and the CMA Music Fest and LifeFlight aircraft stationed at Bonnaroo to respond to medical emergencies. Cooling stations will be available at select locations.
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