The idea that people are safe in numbers does not necessarily apply to large crowds. When surrounded by others, one might expect someone will come to your aid or at least deter bad actors. However, this is not always true.
Psychologists point to two reasons bystanders fail to help those in dire straits. The first is called “pluralistic ignorance,” which asserts individuals cannot comprehend the gravity of a situation. The second, “diffusion of responsibility,” involves each onlooker expecting someone else to act. Those are reasons why video footage of a brutal attack shows everyday people frozen in place. Crowds and large groups of people themselves remain at risk from bad actors seeking to harm large numbers of people out of pure malice.
Couple those with non-human risks such as fire, and it’s abundantly clear dangers persist even when community members surround us. That’s why it’s crucial to take reasonable precautions when participating in larger gatherings and crowds. The following are telltale signs you may be in harm’s way.
1: Emergency Exits Obstructed
Building codes mandate businesses to meet or exceed fire safety standards that include clear pathways and exit doors. Every business is tasked with emergency exit signs and enough door space for patrons to quickly file out in the event of a fire or other emergency.
It’s not uncommon for untrained employees to pile tables, chairs, inventory, and equipment in front of emergency exits. To busy workers, this seems like an expedient way to get their job done. If you are in a concert venue, restaurant, or other facility and see an obstructed pathway, you would be wise to point this issue out to someone in charge. Business owners and managers are keenly aware fire inspectors will level heavy fines for putting people at risk.
2: Identifying Bad Actors
Everyday people seem to be faced with different types of bad actors in crowded areas. For example, people continue to infiltrate otherwise peaceful protests and turn city streets into riotous brawls. Police officers are tasked with protecting themselves by wearing Haven Gear’s lightweight riot gear because they never know when these violent criminals will surface in your community. Civilians would be well-served to steer clear of violent agitators.
Although these nefarious individuals seem easy to spot, not every offender acts so brazenly. Attackers may lay in wait inside the crowded space or enter abruptly. Experienced security professionals often look for subtle indicators someone is not there for the party in a positive way. These typically include the following.
- The individual appears uneasy or nervous.
- The person does not participate in the event.
- The individual does not look toward a concert or theater stage during a performance.
- The person in question seems to move against the normal crowd flow.
Security professionals generally do not wait for an incident to occur. They monitor crowd behaviors and sometimes make a mental list of possible threats. If you see someone acting suspiciously, consider bringing it to the attention of security or a police officer. In other words, “see something, say something.”
3: Take Measures To Ensure Your Physical Wellbeing
One of the common missteps everyday people make involves the assumption they will enjoy access to the things they need. To challenge that idea, consider the New Year’s Eve gathering in Times Square New York. Crowds rarely have access to bathroom facilities, food, or water after occupying their place to watch the ball drop. That same scenario applies equally to crowded music festivals on hot summer days, among others.
It’s essential for people to take a personal inventory before joining a gathering.
Make a checklist that reflects your needs and assemble a backpack with items that may include the following to help you stay safe in large crowds.
- Water bottle clipped to the pack or belt loop.
- Snack bars that have substantial protein content.
- Sunscreen or sunblock lotion.
- A fully charged phone.
- Mosquito repellent or another bug spray.
- Sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat.
- Layered clothing to accommodate weather changes.
- Footwear that protects against toe injuries.
- A full bottle of hand sanitizer.
Stay Safe in Big Gatherings
Other precautionary measures that large groups can take include selecting a meeting place should you lose track of each other. And although you cannot necessarily rely on others in the crowd, entering and exiting as a group typically deters miscreants from ruining your fond memory of the day. Make sure to plan ahead to stay safe. At Haven Gear, we want to keep you safe so you have lasting, positive memories.