Your guide to surviving the Indianapolis 500

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – This week nearly 500,000 people will migrate to Speedway, Indiana for the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500. With so many people crammed into such a small area and temperatures expected to reach the mid-80s, it can be dangerous for you and your family if you’re not prepared.

So whether this will be your first race or your 50th, check out these tips for surviving the big event!

Designate a safe meeting spot

With so many people at the track this weekend, there’s always a chance that you could get separated from your friends and family. And unfortunately, cellular service is known for being very poor on race day.

So choose a designated meeting spot that’s easy to find, for example, the Indy statue that’s in front of the Pagoda. And make sure that everyone in your group knows to head there immediately if they get separated from the group.

Wear comfortable walking shoes

Due to parking problems and the sheer size of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, you will most definitely be doing A LOT of walking. That being said, make sure to wear comfortable shoes if you don’t want to be miserable.

 Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

It’s going to be hot and steamy on Sunday with temperatures expected to be in the upper 80s. That being said, it’s VERY important to drink plenty of water.

According to Dr. Steve Roumpf, emergency medicine at IU Health Methodist Hospital, most adult males should drink 3.7 liters per day (approximately 11 to 13 glasses), and adult females should consume 2.7 liters per day (approximately 8 to 10 glasses).  For children, the suggested amount is about 2 liters.

Some authors suggest drinking an additional 12 ounces per hour if you plan to be in the sun. Dr. Geoffrey Billows, medical director of IU Health Emergency Medical Center at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, says the best advice is to drink enough water so the color of your urine is light yellow.

So does alcohol help you stay hydrated? Absolutely not. Alcohol actually causes dehydration. “Alcohol tends to interfere with the mechanisms that regulate water balance in our bodies, so that it acts like a diuretic and causes increased water loss which then leads to dehydration. If you are going to drink alcohol while at the track, do it in moderation and alternate with non-alcoholic beverages,” says Billows.

If you don’t hydrate enough, you may experience fatigue, light-headedness, low blood pressure, or a headache. If you think you might be dehydrated, get out of the heat immediately and seek medical care, says Roumpf.

Protect yourself from the sun

You should apply about an ounce (enough to fill a shot glass) of sunscreen to all areas of exposed skin 15 minutes before heading outdoors to give it time to absorb into the skin. After that, apply sunscreen every two hours.

Age, gender, and even skin tone do not affect the frequency at which you should apply sunscreen.

Dr. Melanie Kingsley, dermatologist at IU Health, recommends an SPF of 30 or higher with broad spectrum (UVA & UVB) coverage.

Also, remember to wear hats to protect your scalp and sunglasses to protect your eyes.

Don’t worry if you forget your sunscreen at the track. Outrun the Sun will be at Gates 1, 3, 6, 9 and in Fan Village on race day distributing free sunscreen and UV wristbands (that change color when exposed to sunlight).

Assign a designated driver

If you plan on drinking, make sure you have a safe way to get home. Have a discussion about who will be the designated driver in your group before the festivities begin.