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How to Survive a Stampede or Crowd Crush

Wong Shu Lee  


  November 01, 2022

Last Saturday night, the Halloween festivities in Itaewon, Seoul turned into a deadly tragedy. At least 149 people were killed and another 150 injured after they were crushed in a large crowd. According to Seoul’s fire department, it was one of the deadliest peacetime accidents in South Korea’s recent history. 


As we are entering year-end, there will be more mass gatherings, concerts, and festivities coming up. These events often draw more crowds than their initial estimation. Many people always have a perception that if people had just acted rationally they wouldn't have been crushed to death. However, when one was trapped in a crowd crush, things are beyond his/her control. 


Whether it's a stampede or a crush, here are some tips for increasing your chances of survival:


  • Stay on your feet
  • Conserve energy – don't push against the crowd and don't yell or scream
  • Use sign language to communicate with those around you (point, wave, even use your eyes)
  • Keep your hands up by your chest, like a boxer – it allows you movement and protects your chest
  • If you're in danger, ask people to crowd-surf you out
  • If someone extends their hand for help, grab hold to keep them up. 


If you’re going to a concert or show in a confined area, it’s best to make a mental note of all the exits in a venue as soon as you arrive. The natural urge is to use the same entry when you exit, not because it's safer, but because it's familiar. There may be an alternative exit being used by fewer people that will get you out more quickly, very handy if you already know where it is. 


As soon as you start to feel uncomfortable in a crowd, it’s time to start looking at leaving. People often lost their best time to escape from the large and shuffling crowd because they hesitated. 


Keep in mind, safety comes first. 


Before ending this article, we would also like to send our deepest condolences to the families who lost loved ones in the recent Halloween tragedy and wish all those who were injured a quick recovery. 


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