If you've ever planned an event for a significant number of attendees, you know that crowds can get enthusiastic and difficult to manage. Whether it's a book signing for a top author, a giveaway for a new and exciting product, or even a new attraction at a theme park or community event, sometimes attendee behavior can get out of hand. And quite frankly, no two crowds are the same.
So, if you are an event planner and have a large affair to coordinate, you need to understand the basics of crowd control to make sure things don't run amuck, creating dangerous situations that can lead to the destruction of property, personal injury, and in the most extreme and alarming of situations, death.
Events can be disastrous when crowds get out of hand
The most important element of crowd control is safety. To maintain order, and ensure no one is needlessly injured, you need to be well organized. On Thanksgiving Day in 2008, eager shoppers lined up outside a Long Island Walmart to get the first pick of some highly coveted Black Friday specials. While the store had set-up some plastic barriers, customers were jumping over them and knocking them down by 3 AM Friday morning. By 5 AM, so much pressure had been built up that people were being crushed into the entrance doors. In this particular incident, one employee tragically lost his life, and several people were seriously injured. In 1989, 96 Liverpool soccer fans were not so lucky when they were crushed to death by rowdy and out of control fans. These are just two examples of many unfortunate incidents that occur at events with high attendance volume.
The need for barricade
If your event will require a queue for attendees waiting in line to enter or sequestered areas that are considered off-limits or unsafe to guests, a key tool that most event planners will leverage is crowd control barricades. These barricades can help keep people confined, but also send a visual signal to attendees that most will understand. In fact, when people see these barricades, it will tell them that either they can't pass or need to look for a line.
Ensure security and proper authority at any large-scale event
While the proper barriers can provide substantial assistance for any large event, do not underestimate the value of added security. Many security guards and security guard companies specialize in crowd control management. These individuals can handle the flow of traffic should crowds be difficult to manage, and work great in combination with your barrier strategy.
Additional security to wander through the crowd throughout the event will help too. When people know that they are being observed, they are far more likely to keep from participating in unruly behavior. Thomas Jefferson is known for his famous quote, "Whenever you do a thing, act as if all the world were watching." While security and barriers can't always prevent the worst from happening, you have much better odds statistically when you are properly prepared and plan for worst-case scenarios such as fights, drunkenness, stampeding, etc. And as the last suggestion for your event, ensure that local law enforcement has been informed and that any local ordinances are properly obeyed. If things do go downhill quickly, a well-informed law enforcement division will be more readily available to assist.
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