Stampede, of late has emerged as one of the major risks in any mass gathering, be it religious or political or cultural in our country. Whether the event organizers take sufficient preventive measures to prevent stampedes or not, we are on our own when it comes to saving our life and of others in such situations. Though prevention of disasters like stampedes may seem foolish once they start happening, surviving such accidents is very much possible if you observe the following tips :
- The first and most important thing is to consciously make yourself familiar with your surroundings and mentally notice alternate exits. No matter where you are, make sure you always know how to get out.
- Make yourself aware of the type of ground you are standing on: in a moving crowd wet or uneven ground can be slippery or hazardous.
- Do not stand near or climb on chairs, benches, and barricades, temporary structures, such as the Dias/stage, the start/finish points in marathons, which could collapse under too much weight or pressure. Do not forget, if you do such things, hundred others would follow you in mass gatherings.
- Be aware of the general atmosphere of the event, as panic situations can often be easily anticipated. When in danger, few seconds can make all the difference, giving you the possibility of taking advantage of your escaping route. Stay always closer to the escape route.
- Panicked crowds move fast and release an incredible amount of energy, usually compared to the energy generated by a running train: once a crowd gets moving it is very hard to stop, and the flow of people could literally sweep you off your feet.
- So, if you find yourself in the middle of a moving crowd do notfight against the pressure, do not stand still or sit down, because you could easily get trampled.
- Instead, move in the same directionof the crowd; take advantage of any space that may open up to move sideways to the crowd movement where the flow is weaker.
- If you fall, get up quickly. If you can’t get up because you are injured, get someone to pull you back up. If you have kids, lift them up.
- Because the noise level in a crowd could be too loud for shouting to be effective, use gestures to communicateto each other. Always remember, in stampedes everyone will be running scared to get out of the place.
- Grab your friend’s hand or shoulder to remain together. Alternatively, decide on a gathering point where you will meet and account for each other, should you get separated.
- If you fall and cannot get up, keep moving by crawling in the same direction of the crowd, or if that is not possible, then cover your head with your arms and curl up into the fetal position(do not lay on your stomach or back, as this dangerously exposes your lungs).
- The worst scenario is to be pushed by the crowd against an immovable object. Try to stay away from walls, fences or barricades, as the crowd pressure can build up rapidly. On the other hand, if you are at the back of a crowd that looks jammed, do not push it, as it could pose a threat to someone else safety.
- If you are visiting a pilgrim place in its peak season, reserve your tickets early. Know whether there were any stampedes earlier, talk to the people who just returned from the place about arrangements, whether the authorities taken extra measures etc.
- Avoid moving in huge crowds especially in the small hours of day (between 3AM and 6AM) as many volunteers and police personnel are not expected to be active during that period which eventually leaves the crowd to take decision on their own.
- Visit and enjoy only the places where adequate crowd control measures are in place. Remember! You have only one life to live.
Credit: Hyderabad City Police