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The Gilroy Garlic Festival: Safety Tips from the Red Cross

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If attendees start to feel unwell, check the Red Cross station right away

The 2016 Gilroy Garlic festival is fast approaching, and people will be flocking to the three-day event on July 29-31. While enjoying the sights and smells at the 38th annual festival, please remember these few safety tips provided by the American Red Cross:

• Don’t wear new shoes. Resist the urge to wear those new high heels or loafers you just bought at the nearby outlet mall. Blisters are not only painful, they can lead to skin infections.

• Protect yourself from the sun. Wear a hat and remember to apply plenty of sunscreen. If you happen to forget the sunscreen, it's typically available at the first-aid stations the Red Cross will staff at the festival.

• Drink plenty of water. With the possibility that temperatures could approach 100 degrees, heat-related incidents become a real threat. The festival gives out free water at the entrances, and attendees are encouraged to bring a water bottle that can be filled at multiple places. Free water will also be available at the American Red Cross stations at the festival.

• Make sure young children know what to do if they become lost. It's important that they have the phone number of an adult somewhere on their person. Lost children can get help at a Red Cross station.

• It's not safe to leave pets in your car. So, unless it's a service animal, leave your animal at home. If you need to bring a service animal, make sure to bring along a dish for their water.

"The Garlic Festival is an amazing mix of live music, amazing food and unique vendors," says Matthew Stein, event chairperson for the Red Cross's Silicon Valley First Aid Services Team (FAST), which will be staffing the festival again this year. "Come early to enjoy all three before the heat increases. If attendees start to feel unwell, they should check with us at a Red Cross station right away. Usually a simple cooling down in our shaded treatment area can let you rejoin your family or friends quickly versus trying to tough it out, which can lead to a more serious medical situation."

Peg Geringer, who chairs the First Aid Services Team, agrees that the festival — if a few safety tips are followed — is great fun. "This is a terrific event, with fabulous food, activities for children, and interesting exhibits. But it will be a lot more fun if people follow these few safety recommendations."

In good humor, Geringer adds one last safety tip to the list: "Don't come if you are allergic to garlic."

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About the Photo: The Great Garlic Cook-Off, a top amateur cooking contest, takes place each year as part of the festival. Last year's winning dish, "Shakshuka with Deep Fried Garlic," is pictured. (Photo: © Bill Strange Photography)

About the Author: Eric French is a communications volunteer affiliated with San Francisco County for the American Red Cross of the Bay Area.