Tips to stay safe in large crowds

words Alexa Wang

There are a lot of situations we may find ourselves in on a daily basis that would never strike us as dangerous.

Black Friday is a good example. Black Friday is part of American culture and so many of us love heading to retailers after Thanksgiving to find great deals. It’s fun, it’s a time to spend time with loved ones and of course, you can save money.

At the same time, it can be dangerous because of the Black Friday crowds.

As just one example, there was a stampede at a Walmart in 2013. Shoppers were rushing for deals on flat-screen TVs, and an employee got stuck in the crush. He ultimately died because of his injuries, four other people sustained injuries and a pregnant woman lost her child because of a miscarriage.

It’s not just Black Friday shopping that’s risky. Anytime a crowd is involved, it can be dangerous.

For example, 20 people died at an electronic music festival in German in 2010 because they got stuck in a tunnel. There was a stampede effect, and along with 21 deaths, there were 500 injuries.

Along with the potential for stampedes, crowds can be dangerous in a variety of other ways. It’s tougher to know what’s going on around you, tempers can flare, and there can be accidents and injuries.

However, some of the things we often enjoy doing the most involve crowds, including not only shopping and concerts but also sporting and cultural events.

The following are some tips to help you stay safe in large crowds.

crowd trouble

Preventing Injury

Anytime you’re going to be in a large crowd, you want to prevent injuries. First and foremost, know where the exits are. Scout out the exits closest to you as soon as you’re at the venue.

Plan to either arrive and leave early or late to avoid some of the rush of the crowd and don’t wear loose-fitting clothing or accessories that could get pulled or tangled. You should also wear closed-toed shoes and if they have laces, make sure you keep them tied so that you reduce the risk of tripping.

Sprains and similar minor wounds are the most common types of injuries that occur at large events.

Don’t stand on or near anything with the potential to collapse, and if there’s a crowd, don’t walk into it or push into it. Walk around it.

If you’re in a moving crowd, walk sideways or diagonally as you try to get out.

If things feel like they’re getting out-of-control, it may be a good idea to leave the situation.

If it’s too late and you’re caught in a crowd that feels like it’s stampeding, again, try to move diagonally. Don’t try to go to the center.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if you find yourself in this situation you should take on a boxer stance. Put your hands up in front of your chest to give yourself more space to breathe and plant your feet firmly when you aren’t moving.

If you are right in the middle of a stampede, you should try to go with the flow rather than staying put.

If you fall while you’re in a crowd, you should try to protect your body by getting into the fetal position and covering your head.

Stay Hydrated

Sometimes the biggest risks at crowded events are dehydration and fainting. You’re standing for long periods of time, and crowds generate heat. This can be compounded by the fact that many events with large crowds take place outside during the summer months.

Make sure you are regularly drinking water and watch your alcohol intake anytime you’re in a crowd.

If you drink too much, even if you don’t feel drunk, it can cause delayed reaction times and reduced decision-making abilities.

If something were to happen and you were under-the-influence, it might be harder for you to figure out what to do next.

stay safe in large crowds

Remain Calm

If you’re in a crowd, even if nothing dangerous is actually happening, it can cause you to feel anxiety. You might be in fight-or-flight mode, and that can then lead to an elevated heart rate and heavier breathing. That can then lead to more chaos than is really necessary.

Try to breathe deeply, stay calm, and tell yourself it’s okay and you’re going to get out of the situation.

Stay with Your Group

Whether you’re with friends or family, it’s important to stick together. If you have children with you, never take your eyes off of them. Before you head to a crowded venue, take pictures of your kids in what they’re wearing at the time in case you get separated, and you need help to find them.

Dress your kids in clothes that are bright and easy to spot, and write down your phone number and put it in your child’s pocket.

If you’re attending an event that will likely be crowded and you’re especially worried, you can use a GPS tracker to keep up with your kids.

Before you ever even go to an event, it’s a good idea to do some research. Look up the venue and you can usually find a map that will show the layout of everything including exits. Figure out where the first aid stations or medical tents are, and if you’re going somewhere with your family, create a plan for what you’ll do if something happens or you get separated.

Finally, when you’re in big crowds, be vigilant. It’s easy to get lost in the excitement, but you should be on the lookout for signs something isn’t right.  Maybe the crowd is getting a little too rowdy, or there seems to be someone who’s a loner nearby.

Listen to your instincts when you’re in a situation with a crowd because it’s much easier to leave the situation before it takes a turn for the worst rather than trying to get out once it’s already at that point.

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