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Festival Survival Guide: Crowd Safety at Festivals

Keeping safe in a dense crowd - crowd surfing and moshing

When you go to a festival or outdoor concert situated on a green field site you can guarantee that it will be very crowded indeed and at times you might find yourself right in the thick of it.
Wherever there are dense crowds there is potential for a disaster - this is particularly so in a music festival situation and although our festivals are remarkably safe it really is wise to be just a little bit aware of what's going on and the best way to keep yourself safe.

It really isn't the wisest decision to keep pushing yourself further and further into an already dense crowd - crowd collapses and crowd surges do happen - in certain situations people have died as a result - and there have been a number of near misses.
In these very densely crowded situations you are putting yourself at risk of compressive asphyxia (intense pressure that stops you from breathing) - the problem here is that everyone wants those few prime positions at the front and most people don't think of the potential consequences this might have if things go wrong. If you don't believe that things can and do go wrong have a look at uk crowd accidents or resources.

A few ideas to keep yourself safe in mass crowd situations (or as safe as possible - no event can be completely risk free)

  1. Arrive at the venue in plenty of time to familiarise yourself with the setup and layout -check it out to see where the exits are, also check where the welfare services and medical services are located - is there an information area? Is there a security office?
  2. Once you're in the venue check out where the emergency exits are and as you find the place you want to be for the concert make a mental note of the nearest exit to your party, preferably look for a different exit == NOT the main entry/exit because if there is a need to get out fast most people will make for the main one and the crowd there will be very intense.
  3. Make a decision with your mates as to where you will meet up or make contact if you get separated - either inside the venue if you just lose each other or outside the venue if something happens there - that way you all know what you will do and how you will make contact.
  4. Most people want to be near the front of the stage for their favourite acts - this results in some dodgy situations and there have been numerous 'near misses' in this area - this can be one hell of a dodgy place to be and if something goes wrong you won't have much time and you can't rely on security to get you out - pit teams are good but they are not miracle workers and it's very unlikely that they'll be able to get into the crowd to get to you in time - in a real dodgy situation you may only have 3 minutes to get out - think about it - is it really worth it? Remember - crowd collapses can occur anywhere in the crowd but why increase your risk by forcing yourself into an already overcrowded situation? At present organisers are doing nothing to address this issue - although they are well aware of the risks.
  5. What are the ground conditions like? Safety will be compromised with changing weather conditions, what seems okay on a fine sunny day can change rapidly and unpredictably if adverse weather conditions enter the equation. When the ground becomes sodden you might find it hard to walk and if you're on a slope it's easy to fall over - if the crowd pressure becomes intense or surges occur you can get into difficulty pretty quickly. If barriers haven't been correctly placed they may give way. So be aware of where you are standing and what the potential problems might be - if necessary move to a better space.
  6. Crowd surfing, stage diving and moshing - not a good idea, don't do it, most places are trying to ban it - there is a high risk of injury - and a higher risk of hurting those around you (and seriously pissing them off!) You may get ejected from the venue as well.
  7. To avoid the crowd's inevitable rush to leave following a performance ( they call it egress in the industry and it is a 'hot spot' with great potential for accidents) consider the possibility of leaving before the end of the show - you may miss the last number but you will get out much more easily and safely.

If you do stay to the end try and hang back in the arena until the mass eases a little bit - it might just help you out if things look too hectic and you consider it to be an unsafe situation. For more information check out crowd safety.

Crowd Surfing/Stage Diving/Moshing

Should you or shouldn't you? - well there are so many (quite serious) risks associated with these activities that most venues are now banning it - so aside from the risk to yourself and those around you - you run the risk of being ejected from the arena - a lot of venues are operating a 'three strikes and you're out' policy.

This is a really difficult one in some ways - we're not that keen on banning things but it isn't just about the risk to yourself - it's also about the risk to those around you who don't want to do it . If you do it you need to know what risks you are running - both for yourself and those around you so check out crowd surfing in more detail here.

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Festival Survival Guide
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Crowd Safety at Festivals
Festival Survival Guide Index
Part 1. The Safeconcerts Festival Survival Guide
Getting the best from your festival experience
Part 2. Preparation
Some important stuff to do before you're ready to go
Part 3. Security and Stewards
On site security and stewards - what you should know
Part 4. On Your Way
What to do en route and on arrival
Part 5. Your Stuff
How best to keep it safe
Part 6. Pitching Your Tent
Some useful tips for your temporary home
Part 7. Your Body
Keep it safe - it's yours and you have choices
Part 8. Keeping Clean
Not easy but perfectly possible
Part 9. Your Clothes
Keep cool, warm and dry and still keep your cred!
Part 10. Drugs and Alcohol
Be wise, be safe, take care
Part 12. Camp Fires
Not a good idea, why?
Part 13. Toilets
Infamous - can you survive them?
Part 14. Children at Festivals
Fun for all the family?
Part 15. Crowd Safety at Festivals
Keeping safe in a dense crowd - crowd surfing and moshing

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