Puri Jagannath and Hathras stampedes: How to protect yourself if caught in one?

Devotees at the Puri Jagannath Yatra. Photo: AFP

Big, fervent crowds are a signature feature of many Indian religious gatherings and at times, they can become uncontrollable too due to mismanagement by organisers. The most recent examples are the Puri Jagannath Yatra and the Hathras stampedes. While taking part in such processions might be inevitable for many people due to their spiritual inclinations, steps should be taken to ensure that your life is not at risk if the crowd loses its balance at any point. What should you do if you ever get caught up in such a crowd with stampede potential?

Here are a few steps by the National Disaster Management Authority of India:
1) Be familiar with exit routes before you go to take part in an event with a large gathering. 
2) Wear light, simple, breathable cotton clothes.
3) If at all a stampede breaks out, remain calm, and follow any instructions given by authorities.
4) Place your hand like a boxer in front of your chest, to protect it. Keep moving in the direction of the crowd.
5) Whenever the crowd gets thinner, move sideways. Also, stay alert to open spaces.
6) Stay away from barricades, walls or small doorways.
7) If you fall, get up as quickly as possible. If you are injured and can't get up, curl up like a foetus. Cover your head with your arms.

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