How To Survive A Stampede
Mass casualties can result from a human stampede. A peaceful crowd can quickly turn into a senseless panicked heaving mass in which rational behavior by any single individual becomes nearly impossible. What’s worse is that the stampede can be triggered while there is no actual danger. Under certain situations, a crowd that has grown to a big and tight enough size and density reaches a critical state at which the slightest twitch is sufficient to send it into a stampede.
Panicked crowds move fast and release an incredible amount of energy, usually compared to the energy generated by a running train: once a crowd gets moving it is very hard to stop, and the flow of people could literally sweep you off your feet.
It is interesting to note that the force of only 6 or 7 people pushing in the same direction can generate up to 1000 lbs of force – enough to bend steel railings and topple brick walls. During a deadly stampede, people can even die standing up… people die when pressure is applied to their bodies in a front to back direction, causing them not to be able to breath. When pressure is applied to their side, they often survive, probably because their rib cages are protecting their ability to breath.
If you are in a crowd, a first and most important thing is to make yourself familiar with your surroundings and mentally notice alternate exits. No matter where you are, make sure you always know how to get out.
Make yourself aware of the type of ground you are standing on, and know that in a crowd of moving people wet or uneven ground can be slippery or hazardous, causing you to fall.
Be aware of the general atmosphere of the event, as panic situations can often be anticipated. When in danger, a few seconds can make all the difference, giving you the possibility of taking advantage of your escaping route. Always stay closer to the escape route.
If you find yourself in the middle of a moving crowd do not fight against the pressure, do not stand still or sit down, because you could easily get trampled.
Instead, move in the same direction of the crowd; take advantage of any space that may open up to move sideways to the crowd movement where the flow is weaker.
Keep your hands up by your chest, like a boxer – it gives you movement and protects your chest.
If you fall, get up quickly. If you can’t get up because you are injured, get someone to pull you back up. If you have kids, lift them up.
If you fall and cannot get up, keep moving by crawling in the same direction of the crowd, or if that is not possible, then cover your head with your arms and curl up into the fetal position (do not lay on your stomach or back, as this dangerously exposes your lungs).
The worst scenario is to be pushed by the crowd against an immovable object. Try to stay away from walls, fences or barricades, as the crowd pressure can build up rapidly.
After you’re pushed forward, like in a wave there’s a lull. In that lull is your chance to move, and the way you move is on a diagonal, between pockets of people. There’s always space between people. A couple of steps sideways, another wave surge, then another couple of steps in the next lull. You work your way out that way till you get to the periphery.
(UPDATE / 2018) I don’t recall the exact source which originally inspired this post, but it may have been from “Crowd Management Strategies”. Sometimes I may read something, from somewhere or another, that’s relevant to survival & preparedness and feel compelled to bring the information to this community. Just trying to help…
Very interesting article. This is first time I read about how to survive to a stampede however I know it can be really dangerous because it can be so powerfull and irrational giving you no escape..
My instinct would say to get close to the walls and let the crowd get away. Now I can see that this can be lethal. Thank you for the thoughts!
I am really thankful to you for this more than fine explanation. I appreciate it. I would stick to your thoughts under catastrophic circumstances.
Thank you for the advice
This is probably some of the best advice out there. However, do NOT believe the “experts,” when they call a stampede fatality an “accidental death.”
In my personal experience, stampedes are NOT accidental, and it is possible to help people who fall, if you are coming up behind them, or to one side of them.
The truth is, most people do NOT help those who fall, and that is why they die.
Most “experts,” focus on the “crowd force” generated by so many people pushing and shoving, but “pushing and shoving” are NOT involuntary actions.
Just because there are “good Samaritans,” does NOT mean that most people are good enough to help.
Also, notice how most people do NOT care if someone dies in a stampede. They do NOT show the same level of compassion as they do for someone who is shot, stabbed or even beaten to death. (Ask yourself this, “Would a good and decent person continue to enjoy themselves at a rock concert they were attending if it had been announced that someone had been shot?)
(NOTE: Trampling is also very popular in movies and TV, especially children’s programming. Victims of stampedes are mocked, laughed at, and made fun of, constantly. Yet, no one approves of punching someone in a children’s movie. However, depictions of people stepping on another human being is considered acceptable viewing for all ages.)
Last, some “experts” claim that people do NOT die from trampling. This is a confusion of the facts because trampling can also cause asphyxiation. Most people die of asphyxiation rather than blunt force trauma, but if someone stands on your back long enough, you will NOT be able to breathe and die of asphyxiation. Stomping would cause more blunt force trauma than soft trampling, but both can cause death, and stomping can cause asphyxiation by knocking the wind out of you. Believe me, people have been trampled to death, and it has been well documented.
Think twice before going to big, crowded events and concerts. Stampedes happen more frequently than you might believe. They are frequently kept quiet so event coordinators can continue to draw big crowds and make money. (Although you would have to go to archived records, more people have been trampled and stomped to death in New Orleans at Mardi Gras than have ever been shot, stabbed or beaten. They don’t want you to know because it will effect tourism.)
I am in my early 40’s and grew up in Louisiana. The number of deaths at Mardi Gras were reported on the local news and printed in the local papers every year.
I also know several retired New Orleans Police Officers who worked Mardi Gras Crowd Control.
You would occasionally hear of someone being stabbed, or kidnapped, etc., and sometimes someone would actually be run over by a float. (This still happens, from time to time.) However, the highest death toll was ALWAYS from people being stomped and trampled by people in the crowd pushing and fighting over beads.
The highest number of trampling deaths I can recall, in one year, alone, was 36.
Imagine if 36 people had been shot at Mardi Gras, people would be visibly shaken and very emotional about it. But because 36 people were trampled to death in a mad dash for beads, the general public doesn’t really care all that much.
The police working crowd control cared. The families who lost their loved ones cared, but people, as a whole, did not care.
Throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s, it was so rare that only one (1) would get stomped to death that that year it actually made the news because crowd control experts predicted a higher death toll due to trampling, and just, only one person being trampled to death by such a big crowd became the shocking headline. Once again, trivializing the loss of human life as a simple statistic.
Since the 1980’s, crowd control has become a very serious thing with New Orleans Police, and, thankfully, I have NOT heard of a single death by trampling since the late 1980’s.
The Old News Reels and New Paper clippings, etc., DO still exist, but it is NOT easy to find any of them on Google or YouTube.
HOWEVER, there is ONLY ONE website that will actually warn you NOT to bend over and pick up beads because you could be easily knocked down and trampled.
Even the OFFICIAL New Orleans Mardi Gras website only “alludes” to the danger of being trampled, and they only “allude” to it. The worst they will say is “Your hand could be stepped on.” (Um, I don’t think people usually die from their hand being stepped on? It might hurt, especially under a woman’s heel, but death is NOT likely unless you bleed to death through the hole she put through your hand.)
As to where I got MY statistics, “When only 1 person is shot but 36 are trampled, I would say the odds of being that 1 person shot are less than being one of the 36 trampled.” That’s where I got my statistics. Mostly from memory of living in the area when it was so common.
I hope that answers your question?
I truly can not recall the exact year because it was somewhere between 30 and 40 years ago, and I was very young. However, there were various numbers of deaths throughout the years, every year, without fail, for as long as I can remember.
Generally speaking, these events occurred throughout the late 1970’s until the late 1980’s, form memory.
I have tried to find this through Google searches, etc., myself, but, what you would most likely have to do is actually go to a local Library, in the New Orleans area, or possibly at a Louisiana University, such as LSU, and search through microfiche files of old News Paper clippings.
The same fatal stampede statistics are very hard to find regarding Rock Concerts in the 1970’s and 80’s. The ONLY one you can find anything on is The Who Concert in 1979. However, fatal stampedes happened at many concerts, all across the country, throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s. It was actually quite common during that time.
For some reason, “The News Media” and the general public, latched onto “The Who Concert,” yet many people have been crushed or trampled to death, or, very seriously injured by other people, at a number of concerts throughout the years.
There was even a Concert in Baton Rouge, where a 13-year-old girl was deliberately lifted up by 5 guys and intentionally thrown through a glass window. Witnesses said, the boys told her she was moving too slow, and they threatened her before they threw her. Witnesses also said that she was terrified and crying because of their threats, even before they laid hands on her. What did witnesses do? Nothing. They continued to the Concert and enjoyed themselves. I think that was in 1988? I can’t recall the name of the band, or any other details. (Several of my High School class witnessed this first hand, and my accounts were from what they told me personally. The girl did live, but was seriously injured.) I do NOT know or recall any more about it than that, since it was 1988 or further back.
The man in charge of Crowd Control at The Who Concert was forever haunted by his own personal guilt, and fought to change Crowd Control laws, nation wide, but he was ignored, even mocked and laughed at.
If you read about The Who Concert, you will learn of many different variations of the story, anywhere from “it was a full-on classic stampede, where 11 people were heartlessly trampled to death,” to “It wasn’t a stampede at all, and no one was trampled.”
I have read volumes on The Who Concert. Some were pressed up against the glass doors, others were squeezed between people in the crowd, and others were trampled. Many were injured but lived to tell about it. ALL of it was caused by intolerant, impatient, violently hostile people pushing from the back of the line, and trying to force their way into the stadium, and trying to get ahead of others.
There were also “good Samaritans” in the crowd, helping people who had fallen or been knocked to the ground. There were other “Good Samaritans” trying to comfort and calm people who were in a state of “panic,” and held them up so that they would NOT fall. There were also other “good Samaritans” who SCREAMED back at those pushing from behind to “STOP PUSHING! YOU’RE KILLING PEOPLE!”
What was the response from the ones pushing in the back of the line?
They literally LAUGHED at them, and pulled their efforts together in massive waves of destructive force as they chanted, “ONE, TWO, THREE, PUSH!!!! ONE, TWO, THREE, PUSH!!!!”
The ones in the back of the line admitted that they saw ripping human waves throughout the crowd, with every push, and thought it was “amusing,” and “funny to watch.”
How anyone can call that “an accident,” is beyond my comprehension.
Bottom line is:
1. “YES, better crowd control CAN SAVE LIVES!”
2. “YES, a better organized event with clearly marked exits, adequate restroom facilities, lower priced food and beverages, and better directions CAN SAVE LIVES!”
HOWEVER, better crowd control and clearly marked exits DOES NOT CHANGE THE HUMAN CONDITION! Some people are just evil, and if they think they are entitled to something, or think they are better or more important than others, they will cause problems in a crowd because they can hurt someone and disappear in the crowd, never to be prosecuted.
It has nothing to do with race, color, sex or religion. Some people are just greedy, selfish cowards, or just bad.
Just read the accounts of the Black Friday Wal-Mart stampede. There was nothing “accidental” about that either.
Well, that’s about all I have for you.
As for my own personal experiences, I have been in crowds of less than 1000 people where, in most cases, WOMEN verbally threatened to trample me because I was in their way, or they were under the impression that I cut in line.
I always handled things by stepping aside and just letting them have what they wanted.
At the same time, it taught me that women are not always ladies.
I hope that I have given you enough information?
The information is out there.
It will just take some effort and you will have to dig for any records more than a couple of years old.
P.S.: I can’t believe that I almost forgot that one woman did actually try to back up her threats and tried to push me down and trample me.
I was about 15, and I was just physically stronger than she was.
She tried to get her kids to help push me down, but I simply had more strength than all 3 of them, because she was a small woman, and her son and daughter were both under the age of 10.
I had been backed into a corner, for almost an hour, by a mad shopping crowd of moms ripping school supplies off the shelves, and literally destroying store property as they did so.
Once the crowd let up just a little, I tried to step out of the corner, and just around the woman.
She got so angry because, she said, and I quote, “No! I’ve been waiting too long!”
Then she tried to ram me with her shopping cart.
I grabbed the shopping cart before it was able to hit me “you know where she was aiming,” and then she grabbed her kids, forcefully, and screamed at them, “Help me run him over!”
She was literally teaching her children to act this way, and teaching them that this was acceptable.
It would have only taken me a second to step out of her way, but she wouldn’t give it to me.
I forced her and her kids all they way back out of the aisle.
She was furious that she was not strong enough to trample me, but she wasn’t.
Believe me, her kids are probably just like her today.
That was at a K&B store, in Baton Rouge, years ago.
Anyway, it has been a pleasure communicating with you.
But, seriously, I do NOT trust crowds, regardless of how well organised or how well planned the event is.
When I do go to some mildly crowded events, like a Gun Show, or something, I am always ready to jump up on the tables in order to escape the crowd, in the case that things get ugly.
I might scratch a few guns, and make some vendors angry, but at least I will be alive.
Other than that, I NEVER go to concerts or Mardi Gras.
I don’t even like big crowded churches.
Thanks for the chat.
I hope you find the detailed records you are looking for.
For me to give you anything more detailed than what I have already told you, I would have to go digging around archived records myself.
I might do that one day, but have other things going on in my life right now.
Bottom line, some people are just evil, period. NOT ALL PEOPLE, BUT, A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE JUST EVIL, SELFISH, or COWARDS. (A “coward” would trample someone to escape a fire. An evil person would trample someone to get into a concert. Or, an evil coward would trample someone at a concert for fear that if they tried to help that they would get trampled too.)
Well, that’s all I’ve got.
here are some “deaths by stampede”…
I still subscribe to the best method which is, as soon as possible get down in an upright fetal position. put your head to your knees and and rap your arms and hands tightly around your legs. I have some ideas and inventions on a mass stadium scale but i’ll be damned if i am going to be ripped off yet again off the internet or person to person.
If you look back at the Hillsborough soccer(football) disaster in the UK in the circa 1980’s, people were suffocating to death because of all the weight put onto their chest area which makes it impossible to breathe.
the safest thing to do is sit way back up in the cheap-seats and use your binoculars, camera or mobile phone that has telephoto viewing.
I’m really curious if anyone out there is interested in responding. What do you think would happen,
if you were in the middle of a stampede, you moved with the flow BUT you started linking arms with the people around you and they with those around them ? Would it be a good way of synchronizing the crowd or is it a ridiculous idea ?
Normally wouldn’t do this…….but y’all join me in downvoting this person…based on nothing other than his moniker….it has no business gracing this forum…needs to go.
Done, thats 5.