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How to Stay Safe in Crowded Events

WomaninaCrowd_400As a former Navy SEAL, survival expert, and author of the forthcoming 100 Deadly Skills: Survival Edition, here are my tips on staying safe if you are planning on attending a crowded event such as a concert, protest, or the Summer Olympics in Brazil. These steps will keep you safe in the midst of tensions and crowds that could turn riotous or even deadly.

If you’re caught up in a protest that begins to turn violent, avoid the center of the crowd, and refrain from getting caught between oppositional groups. If law enforcement officials are attempting to restrain the crowd, do not approach them for help, as they could easily mistake your approach as an aggressive assault.

Make note of exit routes in large stadiums or theaters. But exits can turn into choke points during a crisis, so think through alternative pathways, such as dropping down over a balcony to a lower stadium level, in advance.

Body language can betray the presence of a concealed weapon. Look for signals such as constantly readjusting a weapon or someone shifting their weight away from nearby bystanders to avoid accidental contact.

Drop and cover at the first sign of gunfire. Stadium and theater rows built out of concrete can provide cover, which means that crawling between seat rows could not only provide concealment, but also potentially protect you from gunfire.

RIO OLYMPICS

Be cautious of pickpockets, who are known to target tourists, particularly around ATMs and checkout lines. Travel light, keeping cards, money and smartphones in front pants pockets rather than purses or back pockets.

“Express kidnappings,” in which victims are driven from ATM to ATM and forced to max out their daily limits, are frequent occurrences in several Latin American countries. To avoid falling victim to one, keep your doors locked and your windows closed when driving. Use taxi services recommend by local embassies and the State Department as well as hotel shuttles or mass transit.

Look out for clothing that doesn’t fit the environment, particularly when accompanied by suspicious behavior. Layers of heavy, bulky clothing worn in the thick of summer games could signal the presence of concealed weapons or explosives.

Make note of exit routes in large stadiums or theaters. But exits can turn into choke points during a crisis, so think through alternative pathways, such as dropping down over a balcony to a lower stadium level, in advance. Drop and cover at the first sign of gunfire. Stadium and theater rows built out of concrete can provide cover, which means that crawling between seat rows could not only provide concealment, but also potentially protect you from gunfire.

Survive a stampede in the event of a crisis by staying away from barricades and walls and maintaining a wide, low stance, shuffling from foot to foot to avoid getting knocked to the ground.

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