After a long winter of indoor gigs and stuffy practice rooms, you’d jump on any chance to finally play outdoors. But, before you head outside to enjoy these fun opportunities, take a little time to consider how to stay healthy in the heat and sun. Here are nine things to consider:
1) Venue review. Be sure to check out your stage ahead of time. Considering the time of day of your performance, will you be playing in direct sunlight, partial shade, or completely protected? Check what type of power supply is available at the venue and what precautions have been taken to protect the gear (and yourself from shock) in the event of sudden storms. Also, will there be electrical fans provided, or could you bring your own?
2) Gear check. To reduce the possibility of electrical shock when playing in an outdoor environment, always check your equipment beforehand. Replace any cables, particularly mains, that have nicks or look tattered.
3) Great covers. Ideal clothes for an outdoor gig are sun protective, light in weight and color, loose-fitting, comfortable, and can wick away the sweat. If your fabric offers little sun protection, consider using an additive like Sun Guard, which increases the ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) of any clothing for several (up to 30) washes. Wear layers if the temperature is likely to change. If you will be in direct sunlight, wear a hat—preferable one that will shade your head and the back of your neck.
4) Lather up. Apply sunscreen before you arrive to all skin not covered by UV protective clothing. The US Food and Drug Administration recommends Broad Spectrum sunscreens with SPF values of 15 or higher. It should be applied 20 minutes before you head outside and reapplied at least every two hours, more often if you’re sweating. Use a “sports” sunscreen that is waterproof so it doesn’t run off your skin and into your eyes. Don’t be fooled into believing that your facial makeup’s SPF protection is enough to protect your face. You would need seven times the normal amount of foundation to get the SPF factor on the label.
5) The right shades. Don’t forget your sunglasses. Time spent in the sun without eye protection can lead to eyestrain, as well as long-term eye diseases such as cataracts. Be sure to read the labels when purchasing sunglasses. They should state that they block at least 99% UVA and UVB radiation, or look for the phrases “UV 400 protection” (block light rays with wavelengths up to 400 nanometers) or “meets ANSI Z80.3 blocking requirements” (standards set by the American National Standards Institute). Polarized lenses cut down on glare, but can actually make it more difficult to read iPads or other screened devices. Wraparound glasses offer the best protection, but at least look for a pair with lenses large enough to go down to your cheek bone and wide temples to protect side exposure.
6) Hydration, hydration, hydration. The human body is 66% water, while the muscles are up to 75% water and lungs are 90% water. If you are sweating on stage, you are probably losing between 0.8 to 1.4 liters (roughly 27.4 to 47.3 oz.) per hour. So pack a small cooler of water bottles and keep one within reach at all times. Avoid alcohol, sugary, or caffeinated drinks. For prolonged or heavy sweating, you should also keep a sports drink handy to also replace electrolytes.
7) Plan ahead. If possible, plan your performance so that you limit your time in the sun, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun’s rays are most intense. If you want to wander around the festival or watch other performers, try to stay in the shade before your set. Also, don’t overdo it. Make sure you have adequate breaks in your set, and scope out a cool, shaded place to take them.
8) Healthy eats. Eat a healthy meal at least one hour before your performance is to start. Include plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, and avoid the salty, high-fat junk food found at most concerts and festivals.
9) Listen to your body. If you feel thirsty, you are not drinking enough water. A headache is also a warning sign that you are becoming dehydrated. Light-headedness, confusion, nausea, cramps, rapid heart rate, and profuse sweating are symptoms of severe dehydration. Get out of the sun and seek medical care immediately, if they do not go away.