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How to Survive a Human Stampede

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How to Survive a Human Stampede

Image via James Cridland / CC BY 2.0

A crowd crush or human stampede can happen wherever crowds congregate. The crowd size can be large or small from huge sporting events, concerts, or riots, or smaller venues like nightclubs, churches, subways or worse—an escalator.

A variety of factors can trigger a human stampede or crush. Something as innocent as a Black Friday sale has led to crowd crushes in places as simple as a department store. Riot police firing water cannons or tear gas can cause a crowd to suddenly converge to a compressed point resulting in a human stampede.

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Panic is the primary problem, and many situations can panic a crowd: A fire, an active shooter, flooding, or any other event perceived as a threat. History records thousands of tragedies where people have suffocated, trampled or buried under bodies as a relentless flow of people move together with no escape.

In the following video, Sensible Prepper explains how to survive a human stampede. There are 7 tips:

1. Know Your Exits

Look around you and understand your exit points. They are usually clearly marked. Most people try to exit from where they entered. Look for alternatives and understand your options.

In some instances, a venue is a temporary structure for a sporting event or concert. At those times exits won’t always have clear markings or identification. Take the time to consider your options for an exit.

2. Keep Your Arms Up

The best defensive position is with your arms up and folded across your chest. This will give you the opportunity to push out slightly so you can breathe and to give you a way to wedge yourself through the crowd. If your arms are hanging down at your side you may never be able to get them up.

3. Keep Moving

Go with the flow. Trying to go against the crush could cause you to fall. As you continue to advance with the direction of the crowd, begin to work at an angle towards an exit point you’ve identified.

The best time to make this diagonal move is based on crowd theory. Studies have shown that a crowd typically pushes and pulls and those lulls in the crush can allow you to make diagonal progress.

4. Avoid Choke Points

Chokepoints are locations where a wide area narrows down to a doorway, hallway or other narrow passage. Avoid them and look for a hidden exit around a corner or through a hidden door. If you must, break a window.

5. Remain Calm

Panic is contagious. Ask people to please move back or backup. Yelling only spreads the panic.

6. Higher Ground

One of the greatest dangers is falling to the ground. When someone falls it creates a vacuum that is soon filled. Look for anything that can get you up and away from the crowd. If you drop your wallet or purse, leave it. If you do fall, assume a fetal position on your side and protect your head with your arms. Don’t lie on your back or stomach.

7. Don’t Lose Your Humanity

If someone falls, try to help them up. Remember, woman and children first. The more people help each other, the more others will get the idea and help to resolve the problem rather than make it worse. If you apply these principles and remain calm you will most likely survive a crowd crush or human stampede.

Watch the video below for more information.

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6 Comments

  1. Jan on October 31, 2019 at 6:47 pm

    I’ve been in two situations where people ended up being crushed. The key was the diagonal move. I crossed my hands on my shoulders- pointing elbows out but giving me a breathing space. I did not look around.One case I had my daughter put her hands (adult) on my shoulders and we moved as one. I just pointed myself in the direction of the furthest wall/ free space behind the crowd and assertively walked. I continually said “excuse me”. “I am going to throw up” also helps. Crowds will part to get you behind them if they think they can get closer to going the way they choose. I don’t think I would put my arms up—better chance of getting squeezed.
    It happens fast. The last time had about four parents with small children right on my heels. Scary. Very Scary.

  2. gcaverly on October 26, 2019 at 9:17 am

    With urban centers increasing in populations the need to when, know and how to act is going to be more important than ever. During times of panic the ability to reason and yes think may and will go right out the window. Humans can revert to a state of wild animals with an everybody for themselves situations. Having an action plan(s) in place will help mitigate this potential of anarchy and chaos. A possible example of this situation now is whats happening in California with the wildfires and lose of electrical power to hundreds and thousands and massive movement away from areas of threat.

  3. Tom Olofsson on October 25, 2019 at 10:10 pm

    Good stuff. Avoiding crowds is a good idea.

  4. Jeanne Leger on October 25, 2019 at 11:58 am

    The premise of “women and children first” flies right out the door today, especially younger men, they have no sense of gender specificity, it all “me, me, me!:”

  5. Anna Heaney on October 25, 2019 at 11:57 am

    I am not a prepper but I do want to live through the day. I don’t have room for all the stuff you suggest. I do walk everywhere or take the bus, I have recently gone blind in my right eye and can’t drive. I carry a backpack. Today you have 100 things you forgot. I can only carry about 10 items depend on size.
    Thanks. I plan to make it through the day and I will help anyone I can. Sometimes they call me Pollyanna but I am proud to be her!!

  6. Anna Heaney on October 25, 2019 at 11:52 am

    I am amazed with this story. This could happen at the Mall of church as you said. I will tell my family about diagonal movement and the fetal position. I think that every one will be praying, if not to God a higher power of their understanding, even a light bulb will work. I never thought about panicked crowd. Now I will.

    I just read the article of 15 ways to use a bucket, excellent, even a shower. #16. A weapon.

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