By Jamie Ridenhour

With DSI Security Services once again providing security for the Gulf Coast Jam, we thought it would be a good time to revisit some tips for staying safe in crowded venues. This year’s Gulf Coast Jam is set to take place in June and, if last year is any indication, the attendance will likely surpass 22,000 concert goers. We covered tips for Safety in Crowded Environments last year and many of those are applicable to a large concert event. We’ll also discuss some new ones that directly apply to concerts in the summer heat.

Your safety begins well before you arrive at the concert. Take some time to visit the promoter’s website to gather as much information as you can about the venue.

  • Find out what the bag policy is and be prepared to follow it. Many venues are now requiring clear bags for easier security screening. Get your bag in advance and be sure what you want to take will fit.
  • Also review the prohibited item policy and plan what you will take. The last thing you want to do is have to take an item back to the car or surrender it.
  • Download and print maps, if possible, and review with others who will be attending with you. Picking a few good meeting spots now can save some time later.

Preparation also applies to what you wear and what you take with you. Make safety and security a priority with some of the following tips.

  • Don’t wear loose fitting clothing that can be pulled or stepped on.
  • Wear closed toed, comfortable shoes with a good tread and keep them tied.
  • Skip the jewelry, both to avoid theft and the need to bend down to look for a dropped item.
  • Take only your ID, a single credit card and necessary cash.
  • Carry your wallet or other important items in a front pocket.
  • Use a close hanging purse, preferably one that hangs across your body.

When you arrive and enter the venue, be sure to be aware of your surroundings and cooperate with venue staff.

  • Work with security personnel that are checking bags, not against them. The rules are there for everyone’s protection and becoming irritated with security officers serves no purpose at all.
  • Discuss where you are going to meet other members of the party if you get separated.
  • Take a group picture when you enter, both for posterity’s sake and so you have a record of what everyone is wearing if you need to look for them.
  • Note where you are entering and pay attention to how you navigate to where you are going.
  • Know where the exits are and think about the easiest route to get to at least two of them.
  • Pay attention to what’s going on around you and to any disturbance that may be moving toward you.
  • Avoid the most crowded areas, particularly if things seem to be getting out of control.
  • Walk around crowds rather than pushing through them.
  • If you are caught in a moving crowd, walk diagonally with the flow to work your way out.
  • Leave early or late to avoid the rush.

If you do find yourself in a crowd panic situation, try to stay calm and keep in mind some of the following suggestions.

  • Put your arms up like a boxer’s defensive position to protect your head and chest.
  • Don’t waste breath by screaming or yelling.
  • Keep valuables in your pockets to avoid dropping anything and think twice about bending over to pick something up.
  • If you do end up on the ground, get in the fetal position on your left side, which offers the most protection for your heart and lungs.
  • Don’t try to crawl in the midst of a mass of people.

Summertime outdoor events can be some of the most enjoyable, but also bring up special considerations.

  • Be sure to drink at least as much water as you do alcohol and don’t substitute alcohol for water as a thirst quencher.
  • Don’t take drinks from strangers and don’t leave your drink unattended.
  • Take proper sun safety measures, such as sunscreen, sunglasses and protective clothing and hats. Seek shade if you need to.

Neither event attendees or organizers can fully plan for every possible situation, but understanding the risks inherent in crowded environments and taking some simple precautions can go a long way towards avoiding a catastrophic outcome. Thankfully, most of the tips we describe above are easy to incorporate into your summertime concert routine.