Music festival season is just around the corner. And with COVID restrictions easing, more and more people are gearing up to head into the crowds to see their favorite artists. Getting ready to attend an event can be exciting, but it’s easy to overlook something essential — safety. And lately, safety may be top of mind for festival goers.
Last year, 10 people were killed and many more suffered severe injuries at Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival during a crowd surge. The singer now faces heavy lawsuits from the victims' families.
And while good security and careful event planning lies in the hands of the event organizers, there is no guarantee that everything will go smoothly. So it's best to think ahead in case of an emergency.
It can be challenging to figure out essential items to bring or avoid unsafe crowds — especially for people who haven’t been to many festivals or concerts before. So here are some tips to make for a safe and fun experience!
1. Stick with a group
When going to a concert or festival, it is important to ensure that other people know where you are. It is best to attend the event with friends, and if you do, make sure to stay together. This includes leaving to go get water or bathrooms.
If you cannot go with other people, send some trusted friends and family your location while you are out.
Whether alone or with a group, look out for other people and assist someone if needed. In the case of an emergency, alert medics or security if someone needs help.
2. Plan what to do if someone gets separated from your group
If you go to the event with other people, create a plan in case someone gets separated at some point. This plan should include a meeting place, which could vary from a part of the venue to where you are staying.
For some events, you can bring a sign with you to make it easier for your group to find each other. The rules about this depend on the venue and event, so check ahead of time to see if bringing a sign is ok.
3. Find an exit route for each area you are in
Don’t wait until you need to evacuate to find a route. When a crowd starts panicking, it can be challenging to find an exit route, or it may be blocked. Look for marked exits, and see if you can leave the way you came in. Once you have identified an exit, periodically check to see if that route is still available and if not, you should find a new one.
4. Keep a first aid kit and other essentials
Events will usually have a first aid table, and other staff may have first aid essentials too. However, it can be challenging to find these people, and it is best to have your supplies in case there aren’t any options near you.
Because hotels are often far from where music/events are, you will likely go hours without coming back to charge your phone. Portable chargers are an easy and convenient way to keep your phone charged. They are generally inexpensive, and your phone dying while you are out is inconvenient and unsafe.
5. Think strategically about where to stand in the crowd
While it can be tempting to get close to the front of the stage, it is best to stay towards the back of the crowd. But if you really want to be closer to the front, try to avoid being at the very front of the stage near the guard rails.
This depends on the size of the crowd, but often the crowd will get bigger as the show goes on. If the group becomes too large and closely packed, people at the front are likely to be injured, making it harder to exit.
6. Drink lots of water and keep a bottle with you that can be sealed, eat food throughout the day
There will likely be food and water sold at an event, but it can be expensive. And lines for free water can get very long. You may be more hesitant to leave during a show, so keeping water and snacks with you is best if the venue allows it. Closed containers are the safest to avoid the possibility of contamination and spiking of drinks.
7. Don’t hesitate to leave if something seems unsafe
It can be difficult to leave during a show, but it is the best thing to do if you notice something off or feel like something is unsafe. Even if it is small, situations can escalate quickly. Even moving to the back to get space from the crowd is good, and you can leave a show without exiting the venue. If the conditions feel safe enough to return, you can do so later.
8. If you are caught in a tight crowd, keep your arms in front of your body
In the event that you are in a tight crowd and are unable to exit, it is important to protect your head and chest. You can do this by holding your arms close to you near your chest, covering your head as well. Keeping a bit of space between your arms and body is best, as this can create more distance between you and others around you to prevent injury to your head or lungs.