30 December 2015

Stay safe and look after each other at summer events

Western Australians attending New Year’s Eve celebrations, music festivals and other events over the coming weeks are reminded to stay safe and get help if someone is having problems, particularly if alcohol and drug use is involved.

WA Health Acting Chief Health Officer Dr Andrew Robertson said it was also important that event organisers and first aid providers ensured that personnel on first aid posts had proper training in recognising and treating overdoses or adverse side effects of alcohol and drugs.

Heat stress combined with excessive alcohol use or drug use can lead to a range of health problems including dehydration, nausea, vomiting, increased heart rate and body temperature, Dr Robertson said.

Festival and event organisers need to ensure they are serving alcohol responsibly, and that intoxicated people are not being served alcohol.

Patrons are reminded to keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water, particularly at longer events, and if the venue or event is licensed, free drinking water should be available.

It is also important to protect yourself from UV exposure by covering up and applying sunscreen.

Mental Health Commissioner Timothy Marney said it was particularly important to seek urgent medical advice if someone experienced adverse effects from alcohol or drug use.

The safest way to have fun this summer is to avoid drug use, and if you are drinking alcohol don't overdo it, Mr Marney said.

If you are out at a festival or an event look out for your mates. If you notice someone is unwell, confused or irrational, or if they are feeling faint, vomit, have trouble breathing, collapse or experience convulsions then seek medical assistance immediately.

Some people are hesitant to call an ambulance due to fear of charges being laid, but safety comes first and Police will not normally attend unless ambulance officers are threatened or there is a death.

Be aware that mixing alcohol and drugs can put you at greater risk of overdosing. The depressant effects of alcohol can mask the effects of stimulant drugs like amphetamines.

If you suspect negative effects from drugs taken by you or someone else, remember that every second counts, so act fast and call 000 for an ambulance.

If you are attending an event, you can seek immediate assistance from security, first aid or a crowd care person. Drug use is illegal for a reason, so your best approach is not to use.”

For more information about staying safe this season, visit the Drug Aware (external site).

For anyone concerned about their own or another person's alcohol or drug use call the Alcohol and Drug Support Line on (08) 9442 5000.

More information about heat stress (external site) can be found on HealthyWA.