Powder fine dust, scorching heat and a flurry of 70,000 thousand people is a harsh living environment for anyone. As two of our registered nurses prepare for the playa – one of them for the first time – they share their insights on why it’s important to experience Burning Man (one of them works on art projects!) and what must-haves are on their packing lists.
There’s no doubt about it: Preparing for Burning Man takes a lot of planning, research and shopping. But how do you prep for a bustling city, home to tens of thousands, that exists for one week every year in the hot, dry Black Rock Desert?
“Before going my first year, I scoured the Internet and Googled everything. I read websites, blogs and joined every chat group. Now, I bring what I want to be comfortable as if I was camping. There’s a big difference though between camping and Burning Man — there’s no water or amenities,” says Lindsay Schaefer, RN, APRN-CNM, at Renown’s Pregnancy Center.
As Lindsay prepares for her third burn, she says she doesn’t want to be caught out on the playa without the items she needs, so she starts prepping by thinking of her basic needs for survival first – food, shelter and water.
“Bring more of everything. A lot of Burning Man people say, ‘The playa will provide what you need.’ Burning Man is the same as if you were going to a pot luck — bring everything you need to have your own good time and if you have extra to share with others, and them with you, you’ll have an even better time.”
She also has to think about what she needs for the large-scale art projects she works on.
In 2014, Lindsay helped work on the art installation “Embrace” — a wooden sculpture of two figures wrapped in an embrace — to the playa. She says one of her biggest draws to the event is the art and the artist community.
“I really like the community and the big art that are supported not only by Burning Man, but by this community in Reno year-round. I work with artists at The Generator (community art and build space in Sparks) all year and get to follow them to Burning Man and see the final result,” she says. “One of main projects this year is the Mazo Temple — it’s based on the Mazo sea goddess of loss– and a second project, the Funnel of Creation. The playa is full of many art cars and projects, and artists practice their great work and watch the community support and show off their work to the rest of the world for one week.”
RN Experience a Burner Asset
For Sari Jokela-Willis, MSN, RN, OCN, Renown Infusion Services, trekking out to the desert is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The first-timer says she’s heading out to the desert with the intent of having fun and experiencing something new, but she’s also prepared to help others if needed.
“My friends know I’m a nurse. I’m not going there as a nurse, but of course if something happens I’d be making sure it’s okay. And I know they have things like decompression tents so in case things get out of hand people can be taken care of,” she says.
As she’s preparing for the unknown, she says she’s relying on one of her best friends to help her out. “She has been talking to me about going for a couple years and I told her this year if she helped me organize, and got me a ticket, I’d go,” Sari says. “She’s giving me a list. She has been there before so she knows how to prepare. They are especially reminding me to take a lot of water because I’m not a water drinker — I just drink coffee. So she is making me pack at least 1.5 gallons of water per day so I’m forced to drink water there.”
In addition to water, and her first-aid kit, Sari says she’s planning on being safe. “My friends say you need to keep yourself well lit at night if you are on your bike because it is so busy; otherwise, they say you are called a speed bump. They told me to pack lights as well as water.”
Lindsay also says safety is an important part of the event and making yourself your first priority is a must.
“If you want to go, do. If it doesn’t sound good to you, don’t try. It’s hard work to stay alive in the desert. Be aware it’s going to take a little bit of effort, but it’s so worth it,” she says. “There is something so incredible watching a city build itself, and the people who take care of the community clean it up so well you’d never know it was there. You’re going to participate in an incredibly amazing thing. And the sunrises and sunsets on the desert are incredible.”
Wanting to experience what happens in Black Rock City (BRC) every year is something Sari says she can check off her bucket list. She says she is excited to experience what she’s long heard about.
“I really want to go and check what the playa is all about and see what everybody is talking about and go experience it all. I’m looking forward to being able to wear all my old party clothes from 20 years ago. I get to wear my hot pants again,” she says.