Partying in winter – Putting risks on ice

COVID blew a massive hole in the summer, so it looks like winter is going to be the party season. Like summer, winter has pretty specific things that you need to keep in mind to keep your risks at a minimum.

Stay cozy, not crispy

Certain substances can lead you to lose motor control. Drugs like GHB and GBL, alcohol, ketamine, opioids, and benzodiazepines at high enough doses can make regular movement hard and your reflexes a little slower than usual.

If getting a little wobbly is your jam, make sure you’re a safe distance from your heaters or anything on fire. Nothing ruins your night quite like falling onto a burning thing and not being able to get off it fast enough.

Now is not the winter of your discount tent

If you’re heading on a multi-day event, your summer kit isn’t going to cut it. Aotearoa’s famous for having gale force winds and torrential rain that spring up out of nowhere. Flimsy, cheap tents are ok in summer when the weather’s not a challenge, but in winter they’re only really useful if you left your kite at home.

Watch the footage of dozens of tents being yeeted into the air and hurled around last year on MSN news

Sure, that might be pretty funny when it’s not happening to you, but it can also be fairly dangerous. A woman actually died falling from her tent when it got blown away with her inside it in a storm in the Marlborough Sounds a few years back. So having a proper tent isn’t something to take lightly.

Read about the accident on the Herald website

Four-season (all-weather) tents are shaped to deal with extreme weather conditions, like heavy rain, snow, and gale-force winds. The poles, guy ropes, and fabric are reinforced for extra durability and there will be less mesh on the inside than three-season tents to keep you warmer.

Don’t forget your gumboots!

At summer events shoes are worn under duress, but they’re necessary in winter. Even if you just have a pair of gumboots to go from your tent to the portaloos or to the dance floor you’ll keep the inside of your tent dry and keep your feet warm.

Hygge life

Hygge is the Danish word for ‘cozy and loving it’. Blankets and woolly jumpers aren’t usually what you think of when it comes to festivals, but at winter events they’re a must.

So warm…so cozy…

Substances like MDMA and cocaine will throw your your internal body temperature out. This is why you can feel hot or like you’re overheating when they start kicking in.

This also means that you can’t actually control your body temperature as well as you normally do and you overheat despite not actually being in a hot place. This is why you get sweaty when you come up. As you’re coming up, you might feel too hot, but the outside temperature is still going to be something you need to protect against, so check in with your tripsitter about whether it’s time to go get warm.

When the substance you’ve taken starts to wear off, your body temperature regulation returns to normal, and suddenly you’re VERY aware that it’s absolutely bloody freezing and you’re only wearing a sparkly pair of hot pants while making snow angels.

While not life-threatening, this sudden switch from too hot to too cold can make you more vulnerable to viruses. Especially if you’ve sweated through your clothes, making them cold and wet. The common cold and regular ‘flu might not kill you, but they will make you feel revolting and keep you in bed for a week or two. Also, the COVID struggle is still real, and might kill you or land you in hospital. Keep it up with masks and vaccinations, as well as staying warm and dry.

Having extra layers like a big fluffy jumper or a cozy onesie to climb into when you start coming down can keep you feeling warm. There’s also the added bonus of wrapping yourself up in something fuzzy; which is pretty great if you’re feeling super tactile.

You can also swing the other way and feel like you’re too cold as you’re coming up, depending on which substance you’ve had, and how your own personal physiology works. This can be a problem as one of the key early symptoms of serotonin syndrome is overheating. If you’re out of touch with your internal thermostat, you’re not going to feel that warning sign. If you start feeling too cold, check in with your tripsitter about how many layers you should wrap up in.

Read more about the effects of MDMA on human body temperatures on the National Library of Medicine website

Take sunblock anywhere snowy. Yes, really.

Snow is highly reflective and will bounce the UV rays straight up onto your unsuspecting skin. The sun might be further away in winter, but it will still cook you like an egg if you give it half the chance.

The hole we have in the ozone layer above Aotearoa means we’re far more vulnerable to cancer-causing UV than the northern hemisphere, so we need to be sun smart the whole year ‘round.

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