Don’t Get Sick

A few tips for staying healthy on the playa while you attend Burning Man.

Use hand sanitizer:
Use the hand sanitizer after using the porta-potties. Apply it faithfully and liberally. Black Rock Rangers have radios, and can help to make a refill request if a hand sanitizer station is empty.

Running after the water trucks:
DO NOT run after water trucks that are spraying water on roads for dust control to cool down or bathe. The water in these vehicles is full of bacteria and could make you sick. The playa gets very slick when water is applied to it and falling is another risk.

Regarding food:
Drink only bottled water or water that you know the origin of. Do not accept water from camps that you have doubts about, and do not share water bottles and canteens with other people.

Keep the refrigerated food in your camp colder than 41 degrees at all time. Restock the ice frequently and use a thermometer to make sure it is staying cold. If it becomes warm, bacteria will begin to grow and multiply and you will get sick as a result of eating it. This precaution applies to cut fruits such as melon as well.

If you are heating food, bring it to a full rolling boil or use a stem thermometer to make sure it gets to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not undercook fish, chicken or other raw foods of an animal origin. They are especially dangerous. Do not hold any food out of temperature more than 3 hours. Bacteria numbers by that time will be such that food borne illness will be very likely.

Keep the food surfaces in your camp as clean as you can. Wash your dishes in soapy water and rinse them in water that has 2 teaspoons of bleach added for every gallon of water. Dirty dishes can breed bacteria and make you ill.

Be cautious about where you eat and drink. While sharing is a great part of the Burning Man experience, food sharing has inherent risks associated with it. Be very careful about eating a food that you are offered if you are not sure that it has been prepared safely. Food sharing camps that are permitted by the Nevada State Health Division have been inspected and meet the minimum standards for cleanliness and food safety. They are on the playa every day. If you are unsure about a food sharing venue, ask them and they will try and assist you.

Giving food away, or trading for food is the same as a restaurant in the eyes of the Health Division, and permits and cooking standards will be enforced. Nevada State Health Division (NSHD) policy on communal kitchens is as follows: Any camp that is serving meals on a large scale (to 125 or more fellow campers at every meal consistently) must also obtain a permit. Go to, and scroll down to the flame icon for specific “Temporary Food Information for Burning Man”.

If you exhibit symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, high fever, jaundice and malaise, you may be carrying a viral pathogen that is highly contagious to others. Seek medical attention immediately and do not prepare or handle food.

Regarding the sun:
The sun is not your friend on the playa. It is a brutal source of radiation that can make you very sick and ruin your playa experience. Use hats, shades, sunscreens and shelters to minimize your dose!

Regarding sex:
Use protection and proper hygiene. You know, like always.

Health help on the playa:
If you have other health questions, members of the Nevada State Health Division, Bureau of Health Protection Services will be on the playa. They are happy to help your time at Burning Man be fun and healthy. You will know them by the Nevada State Health Division logo on their shirts.