Sparkly bras, strobing lights and up-beat music will make their way to Orlando this weekend for the annual Electric Daisy Carnival festival at Tinker Field; but with carnival rides, live music and glitter galore, a pumped-up crowd ready for a weekend of festivities may not be thinking about one important aspect — their safety.
UCF Police Department Officer Peter Stephens reminds students to take note of the common drugs that are used at such festivals.
“This may sound rather cliché, but the most common drug is alcohol, followed by cannabis. And then we get into the more exotic drugs, such as GHB [gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid], Ecstasy, Molly, crystal meth, heroin, Flakka and those types of psychotropic drugs,” Stephens said.
Synthetic LSD has also appeared locally, where a student on the drug pulled the fire alarm at the UCF John C. Hitt Library in May and was tased and taken into custody by UCF PD.
“Each of these, especially the non-pharmaceutical ones, are extremely dangerous. Only the ‘cook’ knows what they are putting into these compounds, and it may not be what you think,” Stephens said.
Being given a drug when unsure of what it consists of is not safe, whether it’s a pill or liquid.
“It’s like Russian roulette. Doing drugs for recreational purposes, even cannabis, can have disastrous outcomes,” he said. “There is no way to ensure quality, and your body can react severely to unregulated and unknown substances.”
When drinking alcohol at public events, it is highly recommended to steer clear of open containers, and always keep an eye on your drink. Even when handed a drink that is odorless or colorless, you don’t know what you are being exposed to.
While drugs have different effects on people, Stephens said the more common side effects are swaying, droopy eyelids and inability to focus or form sentences.
“In extreme cases, especially with drugs like Flakka and synthetic cannabis or LSD, the body can no longer regulate the temperature, and people will begin taking their clothes off, trying to cool down,” he said. “The inability to regulate body temperature is a critical medical situation. You can actually ‘cook’ your brain from the inside and there is no recovering from that.
“We’ve also seen reports of people who suddenly think they can fly, that they are God and even the zombie face-eating people.”
In regard to heat exhaustion, it is critical to stay hydrated with water or a sports-type drink — alcohol is not a substitute for water. For those who may suffer or witness someone suffering a heat stroke, keep in mind that your body will actually stop sweating, and there is often some type of delirium involved, such as feeling cold. Do not suddenly immerse yourself in cold water as this can cause shock.
Stephens also said it is important to keep in mind the danger that comes with someone who is on a drug-induced rage.
“Do not try to physically control the person. Alert medical and police personnel as quickly as possible,” he said. “Even with early intervention, there may be nothing medical staff can do as the body system is going into meltdown, and the person is going to die — regardless of what is done for them.”
While drugs may be the biggest concern, Stephens said students who attend large festivals should remember general safety.
“If you go as a group, stay as a group. Friends don’t let friends wander off with strangers. These types of festivals bring out creeps, as well as legitimate fans,” he said. “College students are too trusting. If something doesn’t feel right, your sixth sense is usually correct.”
Rachel Stuart is a News Editor for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @RachSage or email her at RachelS@CentralFloridaFuture.com.