Astroworld, 1 year later: Tips on staying safe in large, dense crowds

Paul Wertheimer dedicated his life to studying how crowds behave at all manner of live entertainment events. His work began in1979 after 11 people were crushed to death outside a Who concert in Cincinnati. Wertheimer worked for the city and was assigned to a task force that studied how to prevent future tragedies.

Wertheimer later founded Crowd Management Strategies. He developed tips on staying safe during live entertainment events that draw large, dense crowds with no assigned seats.

Here’s what he says you need to remember in the event you end up in this situation:

Wertheimer said when you first start to feel a crowd surging forward, put yourself into a stance similar to a boxer; feet apart, knees slightly bent, and use your hands to protect your head and chest.

“The worst zone is in front of the stage,” Wertheimer said.

Wertheimer said “crowd craze” is when people start moving toward the main entertainment. This can lead to “crowd surge” and then “crowd crush.”

He said concert-goers have to pay attention to how dense the crowd is getting, and if you’re having trouble moving freely, you may want to consider leaving the area.

He said many people go against their own instincts because of the money they’ve spent to attend a concert.

“If you don’t feel safe, there’s a reason you don’t feel safe,” he added. “You may not be safe.”

Wertheimer said if you do start getting into trouble, try not to scream.

“Some people unknowingly waste their oxygen by yelling and screaming, and nobody can hear you over the sound of the band, over the sound of the just ambient noise,” he said. “And what you’re doing is losing precious oxygen which can make you faint.”

Wertheimer said if you fall in a dense crowd and become trapped, try to get on your side.

“You want position yourself on your left side,” Wertheimer said. “First of all you got your heart there, so you want to protect your heart as best you can because people may fall on you. Second of all, by being on your side you have a better chance of continuing to breathe.”

Wertheimer said if you fall on your back or stomach you run a greater risk of having your chest compressed to the point your lungs can’t expand and retract.

You can read more on his tips below.

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About the Author:

Award winning investigative journalist who joined KPRC 2 in July 2000. Husband and father of the Master of Disaster and Chaos Gremlin. “I don’t drink coffee to wake up, I wake up to drink coffee.”