While many are excited for 4th of July fireworks, BBQs and parades, it’s important to keep in mind that Independence Day celebrations can draw large numbers of people. Crowds at large events can easily reach a dangerous density, and as you get ready to celebrate it’s a good idea to make sure you have an understanding of crowd safety.
Safety and security are often not the first questions that come to mind when we are attending an event. Instead, our thoughts can often be:
- Where will I meet my friends at the event?
- What outfit will make me look my best?
- What time will we leave the event?
- Will my feet hurt all night if I wear these shoes?
- Do I have enough phone battery to take photos?
If we begin to prioritize our personal safety before attending events, these questions will start to shift. Instead, you may question:
- Where will I meet my friends if we separate during an emergency?
- Am I prepared if the weather is hot, cold, or a mixture of both?
- Do I know where the closest emergency exit is located?
- Can I run in these shoes if there is an evacuation?
- Do I have enough phone battery if I need to call my family or friends?
Whether you are attending a 4th of July party, a festival, or concert, the following safety tips should be your first priority when navigating through crowded environments.
Communication Safety Tips
The first process to fail in any emergency is communication.
When a crowd becomes overwhelmed, many individuals will reach for their phones in order to contact their family or friends. However, when a crowd of 200 or 20, 000 try to use their phone at the same time, the cell towers will quickly become overwhelmed.
Instead of relying on phone calls and text messages, creating alternative means of communication will keep you prepared during an emergency. A simple way to do this is by downloading an app, which transforms your cellphone into a functioning radio, such as a Zello Walkie Talkie.
Communicating with your family and friends on where to meet, in case you are separated, will also strengthen your preparedness plan. Having two locations, one close to the event and one further away, provides you with extra security in case one of the locations becomes inaccessible.
Another communication safety tip is to keep an eye on your cell phone battery. While taking photos at sporting events and music festivals, we often forget how quickly this drains our cell phone battery. Therefore, it is important to leave your house with a fully charged battery, and if possible, with an external battery or phone charger as well.
Communication safety tips include:
- Fully charge your cell phone before an event
- Consider bringing an external battery or charger
- Download a radio app, such as Zello Walkie Talkie
- Locate a meeting spot in case you are separated from your family and friends
Hydration Safety Tips
A large crowd of people will quickly generate a lot of heat. Whether you are trapped inside a building with poor air circulation or standing outside on a hot sunny day, you are exposed to the risk of developing heat sickness.
To decrease your chance of becoming ill from temperature shifts, it is important to frequently reach for water as opposed to pop, juice, or alcohol. Drinking water will allow you to avoid becoming lethargic and dizzy, symptoms which could require needing medical assistance.
A great way to stay hydrated is to prepare your body for an upcoming event. You can do this by consuming the recommended daily intake of water a few days before the event. You also can plan water breaks with your family and friends, and if possible, you can bring along water bottles in order to have access to water whenever you are thirsty.
Hydration safety tips include:
- Stay hydrated a few days before you attend an event
- Stay hydrated while you are at the event
- Bring a water bottle, or purchase water when you get to the event
Evacuation Safety Tips
People tend to be creatures of habits. Therefore, the same door they enter is usually the same door they expect to leave through.
It is important to understand that when an emergency occurs, the entrance doors may not be accessible or the nearest doors to you. Therefore, analyzing the space around you once you have settled into your new location, will allow you to locate the nearest exit doors.
Knowing what direction to head during an evacuation is not the only critical factor. It is also essential to wear clothing and footwear, which will allow you to reach the exit door safely.
Evacuation safety tips include:
- Locate all venue exits, especially the ones closest to you
- Wear shoes that will not fall off or cause you to trip
- Wear clothing that will not cause you to stumble
- If you smell smoke, hear an alarm, or notice suspicious behavior, evacuate immediately
Although these tips are helpful for maintaining personal safety in large crowds, it is necessary to remember that different situations will direct you through different courses of actions. For example, if the event security guards are providing direction, make sure you are following their instructions.
Lastly, an important step to remember during an emergency, is to remain as calm as you possibly can. The less you panic and stress, the calmer your body and mind will be when you are making safety decisions. Two ways to override your bodies instinctual response to flight-or-fight, is to practice:
- Deep breathing
- Positive self-talk
An example of positive self-talk can simply be telling yourself how you know you are going to be safe. This method of relaxing your mind and slowing down your heart rate, will become easier with practice.
If you are heading to a small indoor concert or large outdoor festival, always remember to stay safe and have fun!
To discover more safety information, read our Summer Safety: Navigating Crowds article.