Camping & Survival

How to Stay Safe in a Sea of People

What do football, NASCAR, movies, concerts, amusement parks and shopping all have in common? Besides germs, rude people and the potential for food poisoning, these large-scale events also have large crowds.

While many of us may prefer quieter less crowded places, we must occasionally subject ourselves to certain venues. However, it is not just at mega events with thousands of people I am referring to. On a recent trip to the movies, I noticed a pubic service video advising all patrons to be aware of their surroundings and strangers. Thanks to recent tragic events anytime there is a large gathering of people—regardless of the attraction—we now must think about the possibility of something going wrong.

Like any other outing, adventure or trip, returning home safely is the goal and it starts by knowing what to expect.

Questions to Ask Before You Go

  • What type of security is in place?
  • Can I legally carry some form of self-protection such as a firearm?
  • What are the chances I will need to protect my family or myself? A football game seems safe, but if you find yourself parking half-a-mile away in a poorly lit parking garage, you may want to have some form of protection on hand. A flashlight and pepper spray is better than nothing.

Things to Do Before You Go

  • Many large venues such as malls, stadiums and exhibit halls will have a map and layout of its facilities online. If possible, print out a copy and carry it with you.
  • Identify the exits as well as any security and first aid stations.
  • Obtain phone numbers of ALL members in your party.

Things to Do Once You Get There

  • If possible try to park your vehicle facing the road, in other words, back into the space. In case of an emergency it helps keep your focus on other drivers instead of turning your back to them. Plus, the few seconds you save by not having to back your vehicle out could make a difference in case of an evacuation.
  • In case you get separated from your party designate an identifiable meeting spot. Instead of saying “Meet me on the north side of the arena when this is over,” be detailed and specific. “Meet me on the north side of the arena at Exit C, directly in front of the campus security office door immediately when this is over.” If possible, do not meet in front of a mobile vendor because they may have moved to another location or closed and left for the day.
  • If the seating is by choice, consider sitting near an exit and at the end of the row in case you have to get out quickly.
  • Take note if someone looks suspicious, out of place, or extremely nervous —report them to the authorities.
  • Avoid consuming alcoholic beverages, or at a minimum, control your intake so your reflexes and senses are not affected.

These are just a few tips to help you prepare for large crowds or mass events. Staying relaxed and enjoying the event is what we all hope to do. So, somewhere between grabbing a bag of popcorn and tray of nachos, you might want to scope out your surroundings and map out an escape route. Above all else use your commonsense, relax, and enjoy the event.

Share your tips for staying safe in a crows in the comments below.


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Comments (9)

  1. On re-reading my post above, I think that I may have strayed from my original point that I wanted to make. If you are the slightest bit apprehensive about going to a large public event — just don’t go! Especially with loved ones in tow, especially with children. Think about it. What is so terrific about going to a game or the theater, that you can’t do at home with your 60″ HDTV and surround sound? OK, OK, some things you just HAVE to do, I suppose. But think about it. If you are worried about going, just don’t go.

  2. Regarding IED’s at large venues and waiting, remember that a tactic that has been used abroad as well as at some domestic bombings is that the perpetrator would set two bombs: I to wreak the initial havoc and carnage, then another set to go many minutes later to harm the rescuers. If ever in such a situation, your personal situation will dictate your response: If you’re their with family, you’re going to prioritize getting them out of harms way, so stay together, move in a slow deliberate manor, you should never go faster than the slowest person i your party and you should be quick but not rush, know where it is that you’re going. If you’re with friends from work and you work in Fire/EMS/RN/Military/Etc. you should decide AS A TEAM what you’re doing. If one of you wants to leave, make sure they’re not going alone. If by yourself and you feel that you can help, do so with caution (this applies to the team mentioned above as well), be calm as you approach security/law enforcement/etc. and immediately identify yourself and ask how you can help. If they say you can’t help and need to leave, leave. You can always help people outside if that’s your wish. Remember that when things like this happen, people panic, and even trained personnel who see things like this everyday are not going to be prepared for it to happen suddenly all around them when they expected to be off the clock enjoying a movie/sporting event/etc. You may be one of those people. If you can’t instantly shift in to work mode, it’s okay. Get yourself and your loved ones safe. No need to feel guilty about your initial panicked response. We’re only human. You’ll help when you can, how you can. Wow, this was a LOT longer than I expected it to be. Hopping off the soapbox. Stay safe.

  3. While there are some good commonsense ideas offered, you might want to rethink carrying any kind of self protection if you’re going to a pro football or baseball game. The stadiums are now screening ALL patrons with metal detectors and if you’re carrying a knife, gun, etc., you’ll be turned away, or have it confiscated. Word to the wise.

  4. Alternate to some suggestions, sitting near the exit may get you killed in the crush of people trying to escape. Look at videos of various soccer matches on Europe for proof of this. The better the seats you have put you in the center of the crush of people and in the center of the best “high value” targets. Depending on what the emergency is, sitting far from the exits may in fact save you life. If a bomb was set at a NFL football stadium, it will be near the premium seats not in the nose bleed section. The premium seats are also where the most complicated infrastructure of the stadium are located and therefore the easiest and best place to place a IED. In the nose bleed section there is many fewer places to conceal a IED. FYI-Anytime I go to an event I always wait 5-10+ mins before leaving to avoid the possible crush. In an “IED explodes” situation do you think there are a lot of secondary IED waiting to blow for those who waited in the nose bleed section a few minutes exit? probably not!
    Some events I attend let many people congregate in the exit tunnels, mainly near the end of the game, this is poor security and negates any advantage to having seats near the “exit”. I feel if a IED goes off at an event you attend and you live, sit still, wait, exit safely as you can a few minutes later……There may be IED’s in parking lot waiting too….

  5. My job in life is to provide and protect m girls. If we must go somewhere and I do carry something for a special occasion I’m very cautious. Being normally isolated we are not use to crowds. We have checks similar to the ones in the blog. The thing that makes me most nervous is the transition to and from the spot we are going to. It seems the walking through the crowd is most nerve racking. We are always relieved when we arrive back in our little holler and are greeted by the dogs. All the general population that deals with the masses daily can keep that life style, I quit it years ago.

  6. I know that it is not always legal , but I ALWAYS carry something to defend my family. Because I would rather be judged by 12, then carried by 6. And I will kill ANYONE who hurts my children. I don’t care who they are. And EVERYONE should learn how to kill with their hands and ONLY THEIR HANDS. That way you are never without a mines to defend yourself and your loved ones.

  7. I would suggest not going in the first place. In addition, if you are armed, you should never, never, never, ever drink. Period. To quote the article: “Avoid consuming alcoholic beverages, or at a minimum, control your intake so your reflexes and senses are not affected.” I’m sorry to say: one beer is enough to affect your reflexes and senses. Also, if something bad happens and you have drawn or fired your weapon, it won’t matter to the authorities who show up later who was in the right. They will undoubtedly be able to smell and know that you have been drinking and will likely take you into custody until it is all sorted out. One way to stay out of trouble is to avoid all places where trouble starts, like bars and nightclubs. If you simply must go, leave the weapon at home.

  8. I very much appreciated all the good advice and the helpful comment. I just wanted to add that I have practiced a lot of these safety suggestions and routines such as backing into any and all public parking spaces all of my adult life, now being at the tender age of 50 something, even though some like my children as they have reached their late teens and early twenties and at that know it all stage, have made fun of me as being always on guard for some catastrophe that’s not going to happen. The point I would like to make is that one can easily become obsessive or paranoid you might say, which is not necessary but, don’t let those that don’t seem to have any grasp of what and how quickly a dangerous or emergency situation can develop discourage you from just trying to think ahead and foresee what steps you and your loved ones might need to take to stay safe and perhaps even alive! As the old expression says “BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY.”

  9. having a designated meeting spot is a good idea , BUT when you make your plans have a SECOND SPOT to meet in case there is a situation where the first spot is not accessible [ie.-if meeting near a parking area and there is a accident there and only authorised can access that area] and REMEMBER TO USE YOUR CELL PHONE TO SHARE INFORMATION
    be safe and GOD BLESS

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