This time of year, when colds and flu are running rampant, and with the recent Ebola outbreaks, going into large crowds can be a little scary. Large crowds and places like shopping malls and sporting events can be a cesspool for germs. Other drawbacks and problems with large crowds are that it is easy to get lost or separated from family, or your personal safety could be compromised by pickpockets or muggers. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to stay safe in situations like this. Here are three ways to stay a little safer in large crowds:
The first rule of thumb in large crowds is to be aware of your surroundings. If you are in a new setting, take time before going in to look at the parking setup, entrances and exits, and traffic around the area. I it is somewhere you have been before, take note of any changes since your last visit, and any security measures that may be in place, for example, metal detectors or guard checkpoints that are set up. Once inside the event, stay alert of anything that might be suspicious. If you have young children with you, hold them by the hand or keep them secure in a stroller or infant carrier. It is easy for people to get separated in large crowds, so be aware of what those in your party are wearing for the day. It’s not a bad idea to take a photo of everyone together before going inside. This way, you have a visual record of what everyone has on, hair and eye color, and any distinguishing features if someone should get lost.
Have A Plan
If you came with a group, it’s always a good idea to come up with a plan for meeting up if you decide to separate or if someone gets lost. Choose a central location to meet at a certain time. Make it somewhere easily recognizable, like a certain restaurant in the mall food court, or the gift shop at the zoo. This way, everyone has a designated place to go and check in (or stay put if they get lost). Another tip: make sure everyone in your party knows the phone number of another adult in the group, especially children. Make sure that the children and teenagers in your party know how to interact appropriately with strangers and never to leave the area with someone they do not know, even if they seem nice, and ask for help. Unfortunately in today’s world, predators will take advantage of children and it can turn disastrous before you can blink an eye.
Another thing to worry about in large crowds is germs. All sorts of viruses can be spread in large group settings simply because they are airborne. While you can’t avoid germs completely, you can do some things to help lower your risk of getting sick. Rule number one is hand wash, hand wash, hand wash. If you can’t easily get to the restroom to wash hands, carry some hand sanitizer in your purse, bag, or pocket and use it often after touching surfaces in public bathrooms, stores, libraries, and ball parks. It is not a bad idea to carry some antibacterial wipes in your bag and use those to clean cart handles or tabletops (if eating out). If you have recently been sick or have a chronic condition where your immune system is compromised, it might be helpful to wear a mask when going out into large crowds. It will keep you from taking in other germs that could make you sick again, or make your condition worse.
If you’re sick, the best thing to do is stay home, but sometimes that isn’t always possible. Instruct children not to touch or mouth objects that could have been handled by many people. Little ones are notorious for putting things to their mouths, like the public toys at the library or doctor’s office. Curbing that behavior as best you can while out will keep the germ spread down as well. When you get home, take off coats and shoes by the door and don’t wear them through the house. This can also bring unwanted germs inside your home and track them everywhere! Being proactive about this can help prevent some of the germs from spreading.
These are just some of the things you can do to stay safe in a large crowd. Obviously, you can’t foresee every scenario, but these three basic tips can help make your experience less stressful and easier to manage, simply by being prepared.