From the Ariana Grande concert on May 22, 2017, in Manchester, where twenty-two innocent people were killed, to the recent massacre on October 1, 2017, in Las Vegas, at the Route 91 Harvest Festival, where fifty-nine were killed and 527 were injured, this year has contained several unfortunate attacks at music events.
In light of recent events, you might consider taking extra precautions to protect yourself from similar, potentially tragic scenarios. Venues have enhanced their security protocols to increase the safety of their concertgoers through bag checks, pat-down searches and wand scanners, but their efforts can only be so effective. As was the case in the Vegas shooting, where the terrorist shot attendees from a nearby hotel, sometimes the actions of attackers are unpreventable by any measure of on-site security.
While the crux of the issue lies in the need for serious gun reform, given the intractability of staunchly pro-gun politicians, foregoing concerts until new firearms legislature is passed may mean not attending a show for years. So if you’re looking for a way to continue going to music festivals, but want to take some actionable steps to reduce your likelihood of being injured, here are several strategies to increase your safety at music events.
1. Stay with Your Group
Due to the thousands of fans they attract, concerts and festivals are generally overcrowded, so it’s important to go with people who you can trust to stay in contact with you throughout the event. Form a solid group in which everyone has all contact information needed and each person can rely on one another. Cell service is not the most reliable at festivals, so it’s a priority that you stay in physical contact with your group.
In times of crisis, it’s better to support and assist one another than face an attacker alone. Staying together can prevent one person from being overlooked or injured with limited access to help. If you somehow become separated from your group, stand up on high surfaces to locate your friends; most of the time they are not straggling too far behind.
2. Have an Accountability Partner
You can give your group’s contact information to someone who is not at the event and will keep you all accounted for by tracking your location on apps such as Find My iPhone. If the worst occurs and your group is separated, that person can be an extra resource for those in the group. You can have a specific word to text them that signals emergency.
If your accountability partner does not hear from you for a few hours, it will be their responsibility to locate your whereabouts and ensure your group’s safety. Store an emergency contact list in your bag as well, in case you need to borrow someone else’s phone to contact help.
3. Form an Exit Plan
Unfortunately, as music events have become targets for violence, attendees have to stay on guard and have backup plans in case security measures fail. The best way to form an exit plan is to familiarize yourself with the venue prior to the event. Look up a map online and locate all exits, security stations and first aid stations.
Try not to use the main emergency exits during a crisis because everyone will be headed to them. Avoid running to an area where you could become trapped, such as a bathroom. Major landmarks can be used as meet-up locations and barriers can become shields against mass gunfire. Having an exit or backup plan can prepare your group for abrupt changes in the event and increase your safety if an incident does occur.
If you have available resources and time before the event, take a self-defense class so that you can learn a few tips on how to protect yourself from an attacker. These classes are beneficial for most scenarios and can give you confidence. Self-defense keychains are fairly inexpensive, offered online and can give you a slight advantage, which can be used in a final attempt to slow down your attacker. Check with your venue prior to the event to confirm what self-defense items are allowed. The main restrictions are pocket knifes and self-defense sprays, so a keychain should be an available option at most events.
If a shooting does occur, contact health personnel and minimize bleeding of the victims. Have a small pack of bandages, a sterile gauze pad or cloth compress with you for emergencies; these can help slow down bleeding while a victim waits for medical assistance. Certifications in CPR and first aid training can be useful when an incident strikes.
5. Dress for Survival
Your outfit can help you during a tragedy. For example, wearing tennis shoes is your best choice for protection, as sandals, heels and wedges will make it more difficult for you to travel through a crowd of people. In general, clothes that are comfortable to run, jump or move around in are a plus.
Large backpacks can weigh your body down, so opt for a fanny pack or small wristlet instead. Hopefully, concerts will never require wearing heavy-duty gear such as bulletproof vests, but dressing comfortably can only be an advantage if a tragic event occurs.
6. Social Media
Photos and videos from recent incidents at music festivals have given the public immediate information on what is happening and what steps need to be taken to assist the individuals involved. If an internet connection is available, social media will be your strongest defense because apps can track your location.
You can check-in on Facebook and share stories on Instagram. An event shared on social media can reach thousands of people in seconds, which can enhance the ability of outside personnel to help. During the Manchester bombing, Paula Robinson brought more than a dozen of young girls to safety and used social media as a way to communicate to their parents. In times of crisis, if you can’t reach the authorities, provide as much factual information of the scene as you can through social media.
If you notice something wrong in the crowd—someone is injured or a suspicious activity—speak up about your concern. Often, attendees can alert authorities and seek help prior to an incident. Never assume someone else has addressed the issue and speak to security if you notice anything out of the ordinary. All in all, do not be afraid to attend a concert and miss out on the wonderful experiences they can offer. You can still enjoy your fun time as long as you are cautious and prepared for any negative outcomes.