Mass gatherings are events that bring together a large number of people in a specific location for a particular purpose. These gatherings can be planned or spontaneous and may present unique health risks for those in attendance. This article aims to inform the global audience about the potential risks of attending mass gatherings, provide tips on staying safe during such events, and offer advice on what to do before and during your trip to ensure your well-being.
Potential Risks at Mass Gatherings
When attending a mass gathering, be aware of the following risks:
- Crowding: stampedes, structure collapse, injuries
- Poor infrastructure or hygiene: contaminated food and water contributing to travelers’ diarrhea
- Extreme temperatures: excessive sun exposure and hot climates, frostbite in cold climates
- Spread of infectious diseases: such as flu, measles, meningitis. Attending a mass gathering increases your chance of being exposed to COVID-19.
- Safety and security concerns: terrorism, crime, violence
Preparing for Your Trip
To protect yourself, follow these steps before your trip:
Check CDC’s destination pages for travel health information. Look up your destination on the CDC’s website to see what vaccines or medicines you might need and what diseases or health risks are a concern.
Check CDC’s Travel Health Notices. Verify if the country where the mass gathering is being held has any current health issues or other mass gathering-related considerations.
Ensure you are up-to-date on all of your routine vaccines. Routine vaccinations protect you from infectious diseases such as measles that can spread quickly in unvaccinated groups.
Make an appointment with a healthcare provider or travel health specialist at least one month before you leave. They can help you get destination-specific vaccines, medicines, and information.
Plan for the unexpected. Take steps to prepare for unforeseen events, such as getting travel insurance, learning where to get healthcare during travel, packing a travel health kit, and enrolling in the Department of State’s STEP program.
Check the attendance requirements for participation. Some events may require certain vaccinations before attending.
During Your Trip
If you feel sick, do not travel to or attend a mass gathering. To protect yourself during your trip, follow these steps:
- Pay attention to your surroundings, including large crowds.
- Locate emergency exits upon arrival.
- Identify where to obtain emergency medical services on site, if needed.
- Arrange a place to meet your family or travel companions in case you are separated.
- If there is a fire, crouch down low to get oxygen since heat and smoke rise.
In case of a stampede or crowd crush, keep these tips in mind:
- Keep your hand in front of your chest like a boxer and maintain firm footing.
- Don’t resist the force of the crowd.
- When there is a lull in movement, work your way diagonally to the edge of the crowd.
- Try to stay on your feet.
- If you fall down, protect yourself by curling into a ball.
- Stay calm and get up as soon as you can.
Additional Tips for Staying Safe at Mass Gatherings
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and water or use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid bug bites by using insect repellent and taking other steps to prevent bites.
- Choose safe food and drink to prevent travelers’ diarrhea and other diseases.
- Protect yourself from the sun by applying sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher and wearing appropriate clothing for the weather.
By being aware of the potential risks, following safety precautions, and preparing for your trip, you can help ensure your well-being and enjoy your experience at mass gatherings.