== Music festivals are a great British summer time favourite and with so many to choose between there’s something for everyone to enjoy!
As the festival season is now well and truly underway, having kicked off with the Isle of Wight Festival last weekend we thought how better to get you in the mood than with a guide to managing your allergy while enjoying the music, fun and (hopefully) sunshine! ==
We asked nut allergy sufferer and award winning allergy blogger Leo for his thoughts on ‘festivalling’ with an allergy.
Leo said; “I have been to festivals and have had to face my allergy during them. I love festivals and wouldn't let my allergy stand in my way of going!”
With that in mind, check out our top tips and get prepared - there’s no reason why having a severe allergy should stop you getting your wellies on and getting stuck in to a great festival this summer! Medication Always carry your prescribed adrenaline auto- injector (EpiPen/Jext) on you at all times. Try not to leave it in your tent if you’re camping for the weekend, but instead carry it around with you. There are a multitude of carriers and cases that allow you to clip it on to belt loops, clothing or bags if you’re stuck for where to keep it, but for Leo, the old favourite is still a winner. “Bring a backpack - it can be a pain carrying adrenaline around with you at a festival, but I found that the best way that it could be managed was to carry a backpack, which means you can also carry food, water, money and all the other essentials too!” Oh and don’t forget your antihistamine!
If you have more than one prescribed adrenaline auto-injector, it might be a good idea to take both with you. This gives you options, as you can keep both on you for double peace of mind, leave one with a trusted friend, or leave one back at base camp in case of accidental loss.
Keep your friends in the loop Make sure the friends you’re going with all know about your allergy and how serious it can be. This way they’ll know to be extra careful and be better able to help you if something does happen.
Bear in mind that festivals can be extremely busy places and getting lost and separated is always a possibility. Preparing for this is all about thinking ahead. The best thing you can do is to wear medical alert bracelets or jewellery displaying your condition, allergies and treatment, or carry a card with this information in your pocket or wallet in case you’re in need and can’t find anyone you know. Having an emergency contact both at the festival and one who is not but would be able to help, like a family member, is also useful, so make sure to list their contact details alongside your other information, too.
Before the festival Festivals often have security measures in place on entering the venue or site. This can mean bag checks as security staff will be on the lookout for anything dangerous or unusual. As with going on holiday, it could be useful to get a note from your GP explaining exactly why you need to carry your adrenaline auto-injector, in case any misinformed bouncers want to go taking it off you thinking it’s something much more untoward! When you get there Do a quick scan on the site or a site map, locating and keeping in mind the nearest medical tents to your chosen camp site and be aware of where you are in relation to these whenever possible.
On arrival, it may be worth taking a trip down to the nearest tent to your campsite and introducing yourself to the medical team, explaining your condition. This means you’ll be on their radar if anything happens, which can never be a bad thing! You can also ask if they have any adrenaline on site, which they aren’t obliged to but may well do, which can give you extra peace of mind.
Eating Finding something to eat at a festival can be tricky if you’ve got a food allergy but there are things you can do to help prevent an accidental reaction. You could contact the festival’s organisers beforehand and see if they can provide you with a list of food suppliers who will be there on the day. That way you can scope out if there’s something you can chow down on when you’re there.
Alternatively, you could take your own food. Nut allergy sufferer Leo says, “It’s really hard to find festival food that doesn't contain or may contain nuts! It's generally ethnic food and a lot of it is vegetarian and nutty.”
So what can you take? Depending on what you’re allergic to, try instant noodles, sandwiches, allergen free crisps and plenty of snacks or even fresh fruits – anything that you know you can eat.
At festivals where there is a town nearby, try heading away from the crowds to find fast food joints or supermarkets where they should be able to tell you what’s in what - always a safe bet!
In an emergency: If you think you’re having a reaction then follow these tips...
- Stay calm and stay with friends – don’t take yourself off on your own but stay with others who can help you - Get a friend to look for a member of the festival staff – stewards or security would be best, but this could also be programme sellers or bar staff – as they will likely have a walkie talkie on them to contact the medical tent or have a good knowledge of the site and how best to get medical attention. If you’re feeling dizzy/faint, you should stay where you are any lie down - If no one is available, call 999 and send a friend off to look for help - If in doubt, use your adrenaline! The benefits of using adrenaline outweigh the negatives, so if in doubt, use it, but remember – always call 999 and seek medical help after use
General festival tips
- Try taking baby wipes and antibacterial gel – best for when you can’t find a sink to wash your hands or a shower to get clean in! - Don’t eat or drink anything that you don’t know where it came from – or what’s in it… take it from us, that’s just a good general life principle, but doubly important if you also have allergies! - Make plans for where to meet friends if you get separated and always carry your mobile phone on you in case of an emergency. - Most importantly…have fun! Festivals are there to be enjoyed, so do the preparation and there’s no reason why you can’t get in on the action!
Click here 
for a list of festivals and get looking for on that takes your fancy!
The Anaphylaxis Campaign is the only UK charity supporting people with severe, life threatening allergies. For more information go to www.anaphylaxis.org.uk or call/email our helpline: 01252 542029 | [email protected]