The key to surviving a panicked crowd

Dangerous situations that result in injury are often in the news. These stories may make you wonder what to do if you find yourself in a crowd during an emergency. A recent piece in Popular Science delves into the issue, discussing the research of a number of scientists. These scientists researched the reactions of crowds in various situations - situations that range from crowds that were panicked by an explosion to the movement of consumers within a shopping mall. This data was gathered in an attempt to help reduce the risk of injuries to people in panicked crowds.

What did the researchers find? The researchers, including a scientist from Clemson University, report that people are generally aware of those around them. Even without making eye contact, pedestrians move to avoid any uncomfortable contact with others. The same is true in crowded venues.

However, when something unexpected like a loud noise or other potentially threatening situation emerges, people begin to move chaotically. The natural ability to avoid colliding with others is no longer important. The more primitive survival mechanisms kick in and people are no longer concerned with personal space. People will bump into each other in an attempt to find an escape.

So how can we reduce our risk of becoming a victim in this type of situation? The ultimate finding of these researchers: stop and think. Take a moment to assess the situation before reacting. Doing so can greatly reduce the risk of serious injury when in a panicked crowd. Instead of joining the masses and heading down an unfruitful path, you may notice an exit or side road that could offer a safe haven if you take a moment to assess your surroundings.

What if we are injured while in a crowd? Those who are injured while at a shopping mall, concert, sporting event or otherwise in a crowded situation may have legal remedies to help cover the costs resulting from the accident. A claim may be available under the legal theory of premises liability. This area of the law essentially involves accidents that occur on dangerous property and can expand to include accidents in these situations.

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