Whether it’s your first Pride or your fifteenth, it’s important to follow some basic safety tips as you celebrate. If you’re going to parades, parties, marches, or other Pride events, use these tips to stay safe and have a fantastic time!

1. Mask up.

Wear a face mask in public indoor settings and in crowded areas. COVID-19 is still very much a risk, so be aware of your area’s risk level and take precautions. If you can, get tested before going to events (and stay home if you test positive, have symptoms, or have had a recent exposure!). In NYC, we are on high alert. City guidance is to get vaccinated and boosted, wear a face mask in all public indoor settings and crowded outdoor settings, consider avoiding higher-risk activities like crowded indoor activities, get tested (especially if you have symptoms or a recent exposure), stay home if you’re sick or recently exposed, and wash your hands frequently. Switch to a higher quality mask if you can, like a KN95, N95, or a cloth mask on top of a surgical mask.

2. Stay hydrated and fed.

Drink plenty of water, especially if you’ll be outside in the heat for long periods of time. This will keep you cool and prevent overheating. Bring a water bottle with you, and a snack like an apple or granola bar.

3. Wear sunscreen and reapply it throughout the day.

Turning tomato red and dealing with pain and peeling skin is no fun—especially when you want to be out celebrating! Use sunscreen that has an SPF of 30 or higher and is water resistant (think of all that sweat). Make sure to put on sunscreen at least 15 minutes before you go outside and reapply it every 2 hours. Don’t forget your back, your ears, your neck, and the tops of your feet. Make sure you use enough sunscreen for full protection–It typically takes about 2 tablespoons to cover an adult’s body. Consider wearing a hat to protect your face and neck. Learn more from the American Academy of Dermatology.

4. Bring extra medication.

If you sleep elsewhere for any reason, you’ll be prepared.

5. Don’t forget protection!

Bring at least 1-2 condoms and/or other barrier methods like dental dams. Even if you don’t think you’ll need them, it’s good to be prepared just in case. And if you have extras, you can give them to a friend in need. While you’re at it, make sure you know how to use them correctly.

6. Go with friends.

If possible, don’t go to parades by yourself. Instead, recruit a group of friends to join you. Stick together throughout the day. This way, you can look out for each other.

7. Charge your phone.

Make sure your phone is fully charged. Bring a portable charger if you have one, and pay attention to your battery life throughout the day. Write down your friends’ and emergency contact’s phone numbers on a piece of paper. This way, you have them just in case your phone dies.

10-26 years old in or near NYC? Call the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center at 212-423-3000 to get confidential, comprehensive health care at no cost to you! Services include primary care (like vaccines and physicals), STI testing and treatment, PrEP and PEP services, birth control, mental health care, and more—all under one roof. All care is LGBTQ+-inclusive and gender affirming.

The Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center is located in New York City. It provides comprehensive, confidential, judgment free health care to over 12,000 young people every year—all at no cost to patients. This column is not intended to provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services to you or to any other individual, only general information for education purposes only.