What should you do if there's a panic or stampede? - INSTITUTE OF HEALTH, SAFETY & ENVIRONMENT MANAGEMENT

What should you do if there’s a panic or stampede?

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We’ve all had that thought at a concert or festival: “What would I do if there’s a panic”?

In a major stampede at Mumbai’s crowded Elphinstone Railway Station on Friday, at least 22 people lost their lives. The tragedy occurred around 10:46 am on a foot-over-bridge, reportedly triggered by unexpected heavy rains.

What can you do if you are stuck in a stampede-like situation? Considering that panic can often spread and exacerbate events, here are some tips to keep in mind if you find yourself in harm’s way.

1. Notice Alternate Exits

The first thing to look for in a crowded situation is the exit route. If you’re attending an event or know that some places can get very crowded very fast, make a note of where the exits are.

2. Keep Your Hands by Your Chest

Keep your hands up by your chest, similar to a boxing stance. This makes it easier to move. In a stampede-like situation, when the crowd pushes you from front and back, your lungs are the first victims. By putting your hands in a boxing position, it stops your ribs from being crushed by the crowd.

3. How to Move When on Your Feet

In the middle of a moving crowd, do not resist the flow of people by standing still or sitting down. The force is too great to fight.

Like in a wave, there is force and a lull in a crowd situation. Keep moving diagonally between pockets of people whenever there is a lull. Try to move towards the exits but not towards walls or fences where you might be cornered.

Keep moving with the crowd to avoid falling.

4. How to Move If You Fall

If you do fall and fail to get back on your feet, cover your head with your hands and curl-up in the foetal position. Basically, avoid exposing your lungs to the crowd. Keep trying to find an opportunity to get up.

5. Communicate Smartly

Conserve energy: While keeping your calm is easier said than done, one must try not to scream since that only increases panic, both of yourself and those around you.

Use sign language: Try to communicate with those around you by pointing, waving, etc.

It’s not possible to remember all these pointers when you’re in a panic, but even a chance recollection could save your life.

(The article was originally published on 15 October 2016 and is being recontextualised & republished from The Quint’s archives in the light of the stampede at Elphinstone Road Railway Station in Mumbai.)

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