With festival season kicking off in B.C., there is plenty of live music to be enjoyed around the province. But the gatherings also raise concerns about drug use and the potential for overdoses.
Island Health, also known as the Vancouver Island Health Authority, is asking people to follow some safe drug use guidelines if they do choose to consume drugs at festivals.
"We want to make sure people have fun attending festivals and not funerals," said Dr. Richard Stanwick, the chief medical health officer for Island Health.
Stanwick said substances such as cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, Xanax and meth have been contaminated by fentanyl or other toxic additives, increasing the possibility of a serious overdose.
For this reason, Island Health has released some pointers on staying safe while having fun — pointers that fall within the realm of "common sense," said Stanwick.
5 simple steps
If festival-goers do consume substances, including alcohol, they are advised to stay safer by following these steps:
- Locate the harm reduction and first aid tents as soon as you arrive on site.
- Take one substance at a time and don't mix with alcohol.
- Use with friends and tell them what you have taken, or think you have taken.
- Know the signs of an opioid overdose:
- Slow or no breathing
- Blue lips and fingertips
- Unresponsive to noise, name or pain
- Gurgling or snoring sounds
- Pinpoint pupils or clammy skin
- Know how to respond:
- Call 911 and festival first-aid immediately.
- Clear and open the person's airway.
- Provide rescue breaths to the person.
- Carry a naloxone kit and know how to use it.
"By following very simple steps, you can ensure that if there is a misadventure, you know what to do," said Stanwick.
"Your best friend could be your life-long friend and save your life."
Stanwick said Island Health officials will be present at many of the festivals happening on Vancouver Island this summer. He said naloxone kits are more readily available and accessible than ever before so he is hopeful no one will get hurt.
"One death would be one death too many."
With files from All Points West