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Keeping safe in a crowd

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On December 25, 2013 at about 8:30pm, over 600 teenagers mobbed a movie theater in Jacksonville, Florida, playing the Knockout Game- attacking moviegoers, an off duty police officer, and each other while stealing everything that was not nailed down, resulting in 5 arrests.

At the same time in Brooklyn NY, another “Knockout Game” flash mob swarmed a mall in Brooklyn, New York with over 400 teens storming a Brooklyn mall violently attacking security guards, shoppers and each other. The events were organized via social media.

Recently our nation has been inundated with some scary stories of attacks during mass gatherings. Many are getting wary of gathering in crowds, but with some proper preparation, you can enjoy a day at the festival.

1. Know several ways out. Whether you are at the ballpark or Warped tour, locate at least two exits in close proximity to your location, and be aware of them at all times.

2. Keep informed. In an emergency, cell phone communication may be compromised. Determine a meeting place in case you and your party or family get separated. It should be nearby the venue, but far enough away to allow for emergency personnel or falling debris. Find an easily recognized landmark and be sure everyone is clear.

3. Against the wall. In the rare case of a stampede indoors, more sideways carefully to a wall, then back up to it. Move along it after the crowd has dissipated. Although it does not happen often, people have been trampled to death by being caught up in the midst of the crowd.

4. Keep your cool. Resist the urge to panic. Panic is the number one killer. Assess the situation and determine the best course of action with a cool head.

5. Be aware. Keep your eyes up off the phone, and scan environment every so often. This can be a bit challenging in light of large volumes of bodies, but try to actively scan the crowd. Look for abnormal behavior such as people moving erratically or against the crowd, or even people moving faster or slower. Or people whose actions and gestures do not seem to match the festivities and energy of the event.

6. Trust your instincts. I can never stress this enough- your gut won’t lie to you. If it seems out of sorts or “wrong” report it or get the hell out of the area and report it as soon as you see someone official.

7. Carry essentials. Water bottle, small first aid kit with a tourniquet, knife or multi tool if allowed. A flashlight is important if you will be indoors- a cell phone light will not penetrate smoke or haze.

8. Identify cover from gunfire. Just in case.

9. Do not live in fear. Things are safer than they appear.

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