How to stay safe in a crowd surge event

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By Isabel Whitsett

The tragedy at the Astroworld Music Festival in Houston, Texas on Nov. 5 was not what fans anticipated. 

Nine festival-goers lost their lives as the crowd became tightly packed, creating a crowd surge.

This is not the first time a crowd has become overly packed, causing injuries to people attending a festival.

The Woodstock festival of 1999 had an attendance of 250,000 to 400,000 people. With so many people and temperatures rising, the crowd surge became real. Three people died and nearly 700 people were treated for injuries, including heat exhaustion.

A similar incident occurred in 1979 at a show where The Who was playing in Cincinnati. Eleven people died from being crushed against the doors prior to the start of the concert.

Crowd surge is when a big group of people tries to move into a space at once, becoming overwhelmingly dense, causing an array of shoving, pushing, tightness and falling onto one another. From an aerial view, you might describe it as a wave of people flowing like water in every direction as a whole.

Crowd surge is no joke, as we can see from the now-called mass casualty at the Astroworld Music Festival. When big crowds become so tightly packed, people can suffer from heat exhaustion, suffocation and cardiac arrest.

As first-hand videos of the tragic incident surfaced online, many viewers speculate Travis Scott is to blame for not listening to fans who screamed for help and begged for the show to stop. 

Organizers failed to provide a safe environment for the festival-goers. However, there are ways to avoid such incidents.

Many festivals and concerts have crowd control. There are reasons why festivals get sold out, so overpopulation of the venue doesn’t occur. This is for everyone’s safety and is only fair to those who bought their tickets. Videos on Twitter, TikTok and Instagram show Scott’s fans pushing the festival’s barricade walls down and sneaking into the venue.

In a recently deleted tweet by Scott from May this year, he encouraged the behavior, tweeting, “NAW AND WE STILL SNEAKING THE WILD ONES IN.”

The violent culture attracted to Astroworld is said to be because of that tweet, concluding that Scott is responsible for what took place in a lawsuit against the hip-hop/rap artist.

Knowing how to stay safe under the circumstance of a crowd surge is crucial if you regularly attend festivals.

To stay as safe as possible, try going to concerts with assigned seating more often.

If you ever find yourself in said situation, do not fight the crowd and its shoving. It’s safer to go with the flow as you get pulled every which way. With so many people pushing and pulling involuntarily, the amount of strength in the crowd is strong enough to bend steel. You, as an individual, are not stronger than the thousands of others also stuck in the surge.

Protecting your rib cage and chest is most important in this situation to avoid asphyxiation. By bending your arms over your chest, you can create a barrier allowing you to continue to breathe. If you fall, get back up as soon as possible to avoid being trampled and try your best to keep your head as high as possible.

To avoid feeling squished at all, staying near the edges of a crowd can ensure a less crowded, safer experience.

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