Attending sporting events, concerts, festivals, celebrations and other events where large crowds gather is an American tradition. Cheering for your favorite team or band, celebrating the Fourth of July and catching up with friends and family are all part of what makes for a good time. Along with the fun comes an added safety risk. Attacks from terrorists, accidents and even Mother Nature can turn an enjoyable event into a life-threatening nightmare. Here are some tips to keep you and your family safe when you’re in a large crowd.
Know Before You Go
Check the event’s website and learn as much about the venue as possible. If you are unfamiliar with the area, get a map and familiarize yourself with the venue’s location and roads leading in and out. Find out what you are and are not allowed to bring with you. For example, many high security venues do not allow guests to enter the stadium with glass bottles, cans, coolers, laser pointers, thermoses, oversized bags or noisemakers. Allowed items are often subject to restrictions. Cameras and binoculars might be allowed but carrying cases may not be.
Find out what time doors open so you don’t arrive too early or too late.
Today’s the Day
On the day of the event, check the weather forecast and plan accordingly. If allowed, bring enough water to stay hydrated. If you can’t bring your own, make sure you have enough money to buy water. Bring hand sanitizer and wear sunscreen if needed. Make sure the family’s cell phones are charged and ready to go. Dress children in something colorful and distinctive so they are easy to find in a crowd.
When you arrive at your destination, look around. Find all of the nearby exits. Locate security personnel. Look for restrooms and medical facilities. Call a short family meeting to point out exits, first aid stations, restrooms and security officers. Make sure children understand that they can go to security if they need help. If possible, stay together. If evacuation occurs, staying together may not be possible, so choose a place away from the facility to meet just in case. Agree on an outside contact to call who can coordinate plans if something goes wrong.
Keep your eyes open for unusual activity. If another guest becomes unruly or begins to act strangely, stay away and report to security. If a large number of people start heading toward you and your family, leave the area. Use your instincts and act fast. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Above all, keep a cool head if something happens. If the crowd panics, stay on your feet and avoid being pinned in one area or near a railing. Make your way to an exit. The best exit may not be the closest exit, but the one with less foot traffic. Remember your plan and meet with separated family members in the designated area.