While there certainly is safety in numbers, being part of a large crowd is not without its risks. That’s especially true for typical summer gatherings and public events like music festivals, concerts, sporting events, and block parties.
As pandemic restrictions are rolled back and the weather gets warmer, people everywhere are itching to attend these events. With so many ready to do so, staying safe is more pertinent than ever.
Here are our best tips for protecting your friends and loved ones while staying safe during events with big crowds.
How to stay safe in a crowd
Do your research
Before you head out, research your event thoroughly. How many people are attending or expected to attend? How long will it last? When should you plan to arrive and leave?
Study and get to know the area, focusing primarily on surrounding streets and thoroughfares if you need to leave quickly. Consider going one step further and creating two evacuation plans, one driveable and another walkable.
Identify exits and know when to leave
Once you’ve arrived, it’s crucial to make sure you know where at least two emergency exits are at all times. This will provide you a clear and safe way to leave the area in case of an emergency.
Of course, knowing where the exits are won’t matter if you don’t know when to leave. Our best piece of advice: Follow your gut and don’t wait until it’s too late.
To follow your gut, you need to be well aware of your surroundings. Listen for fire alarms and look out for smoke or suspicious packages, and don’t be afraid to report what you see.
Moreover, stay vigilant of those around you. If you notice a change in the crowd or find that security presence has increased, it’s best to leave immediately.
When attending an event with a large crowd, it’s imperative that you dress appropriately. It’s far easier than you might think to sustain injury from a trip or fall because of your clothing choices.
There are a few things to keep in mind when doing choosing what to wear:
- Avoid loose clothing or accessories that could be pulled or tugged.
- Clothing should be comfortable without restricting your range of movement.
- Choose practical shoes with closed toes and laces (e.g., sneakers, boots). Keep the laces tied to avoid falling.
Know how to navigate a crowd
Knowing how to work your way through a large crowd is essential in the unlikely event of a crowd rush (also known as a stampede).
If this does occur, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you do not resist the force of the crowd and adopt a boxer-like stance. Keep your hands in front of your face and feet firmly planted to protect yourself. If you do fall, curl into a ball to avoid injury, stay calm, and stand back up as soon as possible.
Should the movement come to a stop, even for a second, you should work your way diagonally to the edges rather than straight ahead or directly to the side.
Keep your belongings safe
The threat of losing your belongings or having them stolen in a large crowd is a major concern. That’s why you shouldn’t carry much; If possible, restrict your belongings to an I.D., cash, one debit or credit card, and your fully-charged cell phone.
Whatever you decide to carry, you should keep your belongings in a secure place on your person that only you can access. This could be something as simple as a money belt that sits under your clothes.
If you don’t have a money belt, a purse or pack with zippers, buttons, or a crossbody strap works well, too. Storing your belongings in your front pocket is also an option, though you should be careful to wrap a rubber band around them to make them challenging to remove.
Stay with your group
If you’re attending an event with family or a group of friends, there are some easy actions you can take to keep everyone safe:
- Brief them on safety tips for large crowds.
- Dress alike or in unique clothing so that you can easily spot them if you get separated or provide a helpful description in the event someone goes missing. Even better, take a group photo before you leave.
- In familiarizing yourself with the area before the event, choose a convenient meeting place. Doing so ensures that if your group becomes separated, you’ll know where to find the others.
- If you have children with you, keep a close eye on them and put your phone number in their pocket so they can easily reach you if you become separated. Even more importantly, remind them to avoid strangers and be sure they know who to go to if they get lost (police officers, event security, etc.).
If you plan to attend a large event alone, be sure to let someone know you’re going and keep them posted on your whereabouts throughout.
To stay secure in a large crowd, think carefully about any and all situations that could potentially arise and have action plans in place. Doing so will go a long way to helping you feel and be safe.