Surviving Coachella

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Posted October 8, 2007 in Mind Body Spirit

Some like it hot, but we all sweat when the heat is on (unless you have hypohidrotic ectodermal dysplasia and thus have no sweat glands, but that’s another story). And the heat will be on, as usual, at this year’s Coachella, going down next weekend, April 27-29. Not only is the line-up smokin’—Bjork, Arcade Fire, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Hot Chip, Arctic Monkeys, Rage Against the Machine, Willie Nelson and tons more—but that desert weather is guaranteed to get your blood broiling as well. Sweating is actually a great thing, because it’s the body’s way of naturally cooling itself, but in extreme situations, perspiring just isn’t enough. There’s nothing like a nasty case of heatstroke to rain on your Coachella parade (and all the money you spent on tickets), so read on for the Weekly’s guide to staying hydrated and healthy when it’s hot out.

As the Mayo Clinic explains, exercising (which includes dancing and walking around a lot) in hot weather puts extra stress on your cardiovascular system. In order to dissipate the heat caused by your increased body temperature, more blood circulates through your skin, which then leaves less blood for your muscles, which increases your heart rate. If humidity is high, your body faces added stress because sweat doesn’t readily evaporate from your skin, pushing your body temperature higher. Prolonged exposure to high temps and/or humidity can result in dangerous heat-related illnesses such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heatstroke. Sometimes these illnesses are simply painful or annoying, but sometimes they can have a lasting negative effect on your body’s systems or can even lead to death. Your best defense is prevention.

It’s very simple—drink a lot of liquids. Water is the best choice, and if you’re headed to Coachella, they have free drinking fountains on site as well as bottled water available for only $2. You can’t bring in your own bottled water, so make sure you have extra cash (the festival also sells sunglasses, visors, hats and sunscreen). Keep drinking even if you don’t feel thirsty—the thirst mechanism doesn’t usually kick in until you’re already dehydrated—and continue drinking after the sun has set in order to prepare your body for the next day. It’s also important to choose your beverages wisely. You’re probably thinking “Beer’s a liquid,” right? Yes, but alcohol and caffeine (coffee, soda and energy drinks) are actually diuretics (they make you pee) and will promote fluid loss. If you’re really shakin’ your groove thang, sports drinks can replace lost sodium, chloride and potassium, but otherwise just stick to nice, cheap water.

Additionally, we know the kids just wanna dance, but during the hours that the sun is out, make sure to take frequent shade breaks. Cop a squat for a moment and let your body cool down. Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothes, which promote sweat evaporation by letting more air pass over your body, and avoid wearing dark colors, which more readily absorb heat. Reapply a sunscreen of at least SPF 30 every few hours, as sunburn decreases your body’s ability to cool itself—don’t forget your ears, nose and the part in your hair.

For the latest weather forecast and all the goods on scheduled bands, accommodations, and a list of all the OKs (sunglasses, cell phones and hats) and No-Ks (drugs, knives and stuffed animals), go to www.coachella.com. And make sure to pack your ear plugs—lost hearing doesn’t come back. Ever. A little rubber in the ears won’t stop you from rockin’ it, Inland Empire style.


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