As he tried to draw water from his water pack’s nozzle in the afternoon heat at Lollapalooza on Saturday, Randy Andrews lost his cool.
“How does this thing work!” he yelled.
Eventually, Andrews was able to get a cool drink, but his frustration was self-made: to avoid dehydration, he had shoved two packs into a backpack designed to hold just one. He said it was worth it to carry both packs, as it would last him at least two hours.
“You cannot [just have a regular water bottle],” he said. “You would need a refill every ten to twenty minutes, and you wouldn’t want to miss your favorite show just to get a refill.”
Looking at Lolla’s swamped hydration stations Saturday, Andrews was probably onto something. With the heat index hitting the triple digits, Lolla medics had their hands full with dehydrated, heat exhausted festival-goers. The festival’s head medic was not immediately available for comment on exact numbers as he said he was swamped with patients.
Getting enough water is challenge enough. It becomes even more difficult when combined with the dehydrating effects of alcohol or marijuana, 1st District Chicago Police Cmdr. Michael Pigott said.
Despite the extreme weather, Pigott said Lolla’s new policy of banning closed water bottles had made the situation better from years past, as people aren’t as easily able to sneak in booze or other dehydrating substances.
By the end of last year’s fest, 234 people had been hospitalized. Halfway through this year’s fest, just 85 have been removed from the premises via ambulance.
“It’s like night and day, we couldn’t be happier,” Pigott said.
Michael Murakami was hiding in a scrap of shade by Tito’s stage trying to keep cool. He said people trying to stay hydrated “drink whatever they can get,” which becomes problematic when they’re consuming more alcohol than water. However, he said that people usually remind their friends to drink more water.
“It’s a really strong community for drinking water and staying hydrated,” he said. “Everyone’s here for each other.”