From the famed Christmas markets in Germany to tree lightings in London and holiday festivities in scores of other cities worldwide, the holidays bring opportunities to celebrate the spectacles of the season. If you are traveling this year, you may find yourself among hundreds, even thousands, of revelers enjoying the thrills, sights, and sounds of those celebrations.
Yet large crowds and open spaces can also contain dangers and hazards for which you should plan ahead and be prepared. Whether you’re heading to a shopping mall to pick up gifts or celebrating the season at a holiday festival, it’s important to know how to keep yourself safe.
Here are some tips from Global Rescue’s security and medical operations personnel to keep you safe as you navigate the holiday crowds.
- Do your homework. Before you go to a concert hall, stadium or other venue with large crowds, browse the event venue’s website. Look specifically for the rules and guidance section – what’s allowed and, more importantly, not allowed inside the venue. If you are with a group, identify two potential “rally points” where you can gather if you are separated. Cell phone service might be disrupted, especially if there’s an incident, so find two spots that are easily found a distance away from the venue, well-lit, and not impacted by the crowd.
- Expect the unexpected. Enter the venue with a charged phone and consider taking a spare external charger as well. Prepare to walk longer distances than anticipated and be able to walk quickly or run. Wear comfortable, closed-toe shoes – not flip-flops. You could be walking and waiting for long periods. Also, should an incident take place that requires the evacuation of the venue, it may not be possible to take the most direct route back to your transportation.
- Stay together inside the venue. If anyone in your group is leaving their seat during the event, they should do so in pairs. Tell others in the group that you’re leaving and be specific: “Jane and I are going to get another pretzel from the vendor outside zone M420. We’ll be back in 10 minutes and have our phones. We’ll let you know if we get delayed.”
- Understand incident response. If there is an incident, and unless you’re in imminent danger, stay where you are and take all instructions from competent authority. Avoid rushing to an exit and getting caught up in a large and panicky crowd. If you’re forced into a crowd, stay near a wall and walk purposefully, making sure not to trip and fall. Use your predetermined rally points to collect your group; having the additional point outside the venue will be helpful in a forced evacuation if authorities do not permit waiting at an inside rally point.
- Stay Alert. Minimize your cell phone screen usage while in crowds. Maintain situational awareness at all times, and be prepared to take action if the need occurs.
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