The basics of crowd safety

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With the celebrations for Montreal’s 375th birthday underway there are large numbers of cool free events on offer.  It’s also the start of the festival season!  With this in mind my thoughts have turned to crowd safety or how to stay safe in a crowd.  Fortunately there are tips and tricks you can use to try and ensure your own safety, and that of those you love when in a crowd.

Some advanced preparation can keep you safer around big crowds. Click To Tweet
Advanced preparation

As with all things some advanced preparation is necessary.  If you are going somewhere you know will be crowded, there are some things you can do to put luck on your side:

  1.  Having the right shoes is one of the most important items.  I’ve covered this before in Your style choices will kill you.  Being able to walk (or run) away can be an easy and fast way to reduce your danger.
  2. Consider avoiding loose or baggy clothing that could catch on things.
  3. If you are going to be outside make sure you factor in the elements.  Bring water and a hat if you will be in the sun, or a wind/rainproof jacket otherwise.  As always layering is key to regulating body temperature.
  4. Always bring some cash and carry it in two places.  Consider pickpockets and keep your precious goods where they are least accessible.
  5. Keep everything else you’re bringing to a minimum.
  6. If you’re going with kids, take a picture of them ahead of time and make sure they have your cellphone number in their pocket.
Going somewhere crowded? Look for exits and choke-points and keep an eye on the mood of the event. Click To Tweet

The first thing to do is determine where your meetup spot will be if you get separated.  Make sure everyone understands this and can recognize it easily.

Next you want to check exits.  It’s important not only to know where the closest exit is but also where other exits might be in case that one is unavailable.  It’s also worth thinking about where there are potential choke-points, which have the potential to be dangerous. There are likely measures in place to deal with various  emergencies.  Keep your ears open for any warnings or instructions that might be broadcast.

Keep an eye on the mood of the event.  This is part of Situation Awareness that we have discussed previously.  As soon as people are starting to seem angry or pushy, then it’s time to leave.  But do so calmly, do not run as that can make you a target.

Dealing with Crowd Crush and Stampedes

Crowds themselves can be very dangerous, when panic or herd mentality kick in people are no longer thinking straight.  It’s important to try and stay calm and deal with the situation at hand.  According to Paul Wertheimer a leading expert on crowd safety “crowd crush” and not stampede kills the most people.  Crowd crush happens when people surge together usually to get something “important” like a deal or the attention of a celebrity.  The best way to deal with it is remove yourself from danger before it’s an issue.

If it’s already too late to get away, then crowds in either situation can be treated like a riptide.  Instead of trying to work against the crowd try and follow the flow.  Look for openings and when you see them move diagonally through the crowd.  If you are in a group then link arms, if you have kids pick them up.  If possible keep your arms at chest height, because you don’t want them to get pinned.  Make sure you stay standing and if anyone around you falls help them up immediately.  You could save their life and it will be safer for you if they aren’t there to trip over.


There will unfortunately always be some added danger to going anywhere with crowds.  People are unpredictable and crowds can be targets for those with malicious intent.  However for me being a Prepper means being as safe as possible and not simply avoiding everything that life has to offer.  Hopefully with the tips I’ve given above you can keep yourself and your family safer in a crowd.

If you’re interested in learning more about crowd safety I would suggest these two links.  The first talks about a stampede at the Hajj in 2015.  The second is an audio interview with Paul Wertheimer an expert in crowd safety.

Stay Safe


Prepper Montreal

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