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Crowd safety tips for Mardi Gras celebrations

As the end of Mardi Gras nears and Shrove Tuesday approaches, the final parades and events are in full swing. Music and event venues swell to beyond capacity and maximum occupancy limitations are often ignored. Caught up in the fun of the festivities, patrons are not concerned with swelling crowds. But overcrowding in bars and other establishments can make safe exits nearly impossible in the event of an emergency.

Panicked masses

Human stampedes are rare in the U.S. Only three stampedes with fatalities have occurred in the last century. However, in the event of a disaster or emergency, large crowds can quickly turn into a panicked mass. When faced with imminent peril, panicked people can be a danger to themselves and others.

Under normal circumstances, pedestrians have a general awareness of their surroundings and the people nearby. We are innately compelled to avoid running into other people. As we walk, we calculate how fast the people around us are walking and which direction they are headed. But as people are crammed closer and closer together, collisions begin to happen and tensions escalate. The situation worsens as movement becomes more restricted and external stressors, such as loud noises, compound the problem.

Stay calm

If you need to quickly evacuate a crowded area, take a second to get your bearings and collect your thoughts before reacting. This is much easier said than done, but taking a deep breath and trying to approach the situation logically is in your best interest. Search out less crowded exits and the best way to approach them.

Most stadiums and large venues are designed with the need for a mass exodus in mind, but smaller venues are not. Bars, nightclubs and music venues tend to only have a single front door and small rear delivery door leading to cumbersomely slow exits.

When crowd density and anxiety are high, crowd injuries can happen. People become more aggressive and less concerned with bumping or running into others. Take care while enjoying the seasonal festivities and refrain from entering overly crowded spaces if possible.

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