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Carnival safety in crowded places

Published: 
Friday, January 23, 2015
Lecturer, CISPS RICHARD SMITH MSc

It is that time of the year again deemed as the greatest show on earth—Carnival. For many people attending parties, fetes, functions and participating in the street parades it will be a time to relax and enjoy, spend time with family and friends and to make new memories. 

Now, let’s look at this occurrence: On April 12, 1989, 95 soccer fans perished due to asphyxiation. A crowd of 10,000 fans tried to enter the Sheffield Stadium in Hillsborough, England through seven turnstiles only 30 minutes before kickoff.

What is notable in the aforementioned event? The answer is crowds. In any event, excitement can turn into tragedy in seconds. Crowds are unavoidable occurrences of everyday life, and there is the potential for injuries, minor or major, occurring through the dynamics of crowd behaviour as past tragedies have demonstrated. 

Most injuries and deaths occur when the crowd is on the move generally during ingress, egress, celebration, protest and crowd-surges. Crowds can grow from a few people to thousands in a matter of minutes. It is within these periods of movements that the greater potential for a serious problem arises. 

Do you feel safe in crowds? Are you sure your loved ones know how to protect themselves in a crowd? Here are some tips to make you feel safe. 

Information gathering:

Like with most preparedness activities, the first step is knowing what you are in for. Gather information about the event and its location in advance. With high security events, find out things which you are allowed to take to such. In addition, know how long it will last, an estimated number of people who will be in attendance and also the time of arrival to the event.

Locate emergency exits and first aid stations:

Immediately upon entering any area be it large or small, it should become routine to look for and remember the locations of emergency exits and first-aid stations in advance. Always be aware of the closest exists and stations and communicate such information to family and friends alike. By being aware of the placements of the emergency exits in a crowded area, a quicker escape and being one step ahead can be facilitated in the event of a fire or other emergency situations. Knowledge of first-aid stations would also facilitate an easier and quicker progress in event of first-aid requirements. 

Be aware of your surroundings:

It is always important to watch for any hazard you may possibly come across. Some examples would be extension cords, wires, temporary fences or gates and any type of trash or debris obstructing your walk path. You also need to be aware of unruly individuals. Large, long events tend to include alcohol and occasional fighting. By keeping aware of your surroundings, you can limit the risk of getting yourself hurt or possibly hurting someone else.

When the crowd goes wild:

If you sense that there is the possibility of the crowd getting out of control, begin to move out of the centre of the crowd as quickly and calmly as you can. Locate a wall and press yourself against it until the crowd dissipates, or find a better exit point. In an event an unruly crowd knocks you to the ground, place your arms around your head and wrap yourself into a ball. Whilst you may still get hurt, some level of protection will be provided to your head and body.

Pick a place to meet:

The possibility can exist where you can get separated from a group or people in a crowd. Therefore, it is wise beforehand to pick a time and a place to meet. This should be as specific as possible and communicated to every group member. Whilst mobile phones may be considered a quick way of communicating, think of scenarios of dead batteries, lost or stolen mobiles or even overwhelmed network towers. In such a case, you will be more than happy you had a plan.

Know your limits:

It is easier than you think to lose track of how much alcohol you have had to drink especially at events which may last for several hours. It is important to know when to stop. If you are drinking remember to have a designated driver in the group. You never know how much someone else has had to drink and with the vast numbers of vehicles entering and leaving that area, danger may not be far.

Remember: Keeping safety in mind in advance can help you stay calm and think clearly in an emergency—it’s a good asset to have if an emergency happens in a sea of hundreds or even thousands of people. Ensure your gatherings are to cherish and not to regret.

The Caribbean Institute for Security and Public Safety trains people from companies as well as individuals in a wide array of programmes on occupational safety and health and security-related areas which are delivered by experts in the field. Contact us at 223-6999, e-mail: [email protected] or www.caribbeansecurityinstitute.com

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