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Don’t drive good health away: Staying safe at Daytona

Learn how to protect your health at the Daytona 500 and other races with tips from HCA Florida Healthcare.

February 01, 2024

With thousands of spectators descending on Daytona Beach this month ahead of the Daytona 500, excitement is high — but so is the risk of accidents, injuries and illnesses. The tail end of the annual flu season plus ongoing COVID cases mean the danger of catching infectious disease is high. Plus, with thousands of people packed together on a noisy track, there is also a risk of hearing loss and other injuries. With all these dangers, now is a great time for a reminder to keep yourself and your family safe at large gatherings like the Daytona 500. 

Life in the fast lane doesn’t mean putting your health aside. From protecting your ears to avoiding infection, learn how to stay healthy with your “pit crew” from tips from HCA Florida Healthcare. 

Dangers of driving

Though NASCAR vehicles have become increasingly safe over the years, there are natural dangers present when cars race at high speeds for hours on end. While drivers face the risk of injuries like concussions if they crash their cars, the more common dangers include dehydration and heat stroke. In fact, some drivers have missed or had to withdraw from races because of severe dehydration. 

Dehydration can cause dizziness, tiredness and headaches. Left untreated, dehydration can lead to heat stroke, a condition where your body cannot cool itself off and that can lead to loss of consciousness. None of these symptoms are safe things to experience while operating heavy equipment at high speeds, and pit crews and drivers have to work together to make sure drivers stay hydrated for a long race in high temperatures. 

Spectator safety

While you don’t face the same injury risks as drivers do, there are dangers to being a spectator at a racetrack. You can protect yourself and your family by:

  • Getting your flu shot: You can’t avoid crowds (or their germs) entirely at events like the Daytona 500. However, getting your annual flu shot lowers your chance of getting sick with the flu and reduces its severity if you do get sick. 
  • Protecting your ears: NASCAR races expose spectators to up to 114 decibels, which is just below the threshold of pain. Without ear protection, this noise can cause permanent damage. Invest in some earplugs and earmuffs to protect your hearing for the long haul. 
  • Resting up: Boost your immune system and start the day off on the right foot with a good night of sleep. 
  • Staying hydrated: While the stands might not be as hot as the drivers’ cockpits, a long day in the heat and sun can lead to dehydration for spectators. Drink water throughout the day and bring a refillable water bottle to save money and plastic. 
  • Washing your hands: Prevent the spread of the flu, common colds and COVID with regular hand washing. You can also bring your own hand sanitizer to use in a pinch at the race. 
  • Wearing sunscreen: Hours spent in the sun can lead to a sunburn if you’re not careful. Make sure to slather on sunscreen with at least SPF 15 and reapply throughout the day!

When to seek emergency care

If an accident, illness or injury throws off your day at the track, you may need to find emergency medical care. Get medical attention if you have a:

  • Broken bone (or suspect you have one)
  • Fever greater than 102 degrees
  • Head injuries, including concussions
  • Joint pain or swelling that won’t go away

Care, less than 500 miles away

If you have an accident, injury or illness, HCA Florida Healthcare physicians are here to get you back in the driver’s seat. 

Find an emergency care location near you.

February 01, 2024