ESCANABA - Fairs, festivals, concerts, and amusement parks are popular summer destinations and Delta County Sheriff Gary Ballweg offers the following tips to help safely navigate these crowded venues:
1. Establish three points of contact. Have a plan for how you will get in touch with one another if you are separated. (1) Don't forget your cell phones. Make sure you have the cell phone numbers of everyone in your party programmed into your phone. Also make sure you know them in case your phone becomes unreliable and you need to use a pay phone. Children traveling with you should know your cell phone numbers in case they become separated from the group. (2) Choose a memorable place where you will meet up if you become separated and can't reach each other by phone. (3) Make sure you have the phone number of a common contact who is not with you at the event. If, for any reason, you cannot meet up at your pre-determined meeting spot and cell phone contact is disrupted you can call this third party to re-establish contact.
2. Keep your kids close: Remind children to stay within eyesight at all times. Make sure they are aware of the meeting place you have chosen and can find it if they become separated from you.
3. Avoid pickpockets: Leave extra credit cards and cash at home. Carry only what you need in a concealed place. Consider using a money belt which keeps your cash hidden beneath your clothing. Use interior coat pockets or a deep front pocket to store your phone. Don't store anything of value in your back pants pockets. Make note of exactly which credit cards you are carrying so that if they are lost or stolen you can immediately call to block any charges.
4. Stay healthy: Carry a small bottle of instant hand sanitizer, extra water, and a small snack.
5. In case of a stampede: In extreme cases, such as fires, sudden violent weather, or criminal activity, crowds have been known to stampede. If you are caught in a crowd stampede, attempt to move with the crowd and slowly work your way to the side or open area. If you are knocked down, attempt to crawl in the direction of the crowd and regain your footing. If you are unable to move with the crowd, curl into a ball with your back upwards and use your arms to protect your head. It's always best at crowded events to be aware of the exits and avoid places with limited access if at all possible.