Surviving a Stadium Stampede …and Other Critical Super Bowl Skills

READING TIME: 5 min 47 sec

Unless you’ve been living in a small cave with no cell signal, you are likely aware that Super Bowl 50 is upon us. Ah yes, the annual Man Ballet where sadism and masochism collide with majestic and sometimes terrifying force on a wide expanse of greenery…and beers are $8 a pop.

This year’s Super Bowl takes place in Santa Clara, California, a mere stone’s throw (well, if you had a REALLY good arm, but still—it’s pretty close) from my abode. I don’t know that any of my friends will be in attendance, but I do know that people will be there. Lots of people. Lots and LOTS of people. Which got me thinking about public safety.

(Yes, my brain is a jumble of preparedness scenarios. You probably don’t want to go in there without a flashlight and a map. And possibly a compass.)

You see, preparedness isn’t just about terrorist attacks and natural disasters. It’s about keeping yourself safe in ALL environments. And it’s about thinking through the most likely scenarios for the situation at hand. While it is unlikely that Santa Clara will experience a volcanic eruption next week, its proximity to the San Andreas fault line means it could experience an earthquake and a subsequent stadium stampede. There’s also the far more likely chance that unsavory characters will take advantage of the press of humanity and attempt to relieve said humans of their valuables. Not the end of the world, but an inconvenience, nevertheless. And let us not forget the potential for everyday mishaps—things that could happen anywhere at any time, but would be a particular drag at the Super Bowl par-tay.

So let’s address these issues, shall we? In this blog, we’ll examine some potential personal safety issues, progressing from extremely general concerns, then onto “slightly annoying,” and culminating in “holy shit” on the impact scale.

Situational Awareness

There's a whole world outside of Instagram. Hey, look! A football game!

Don’t get engrossed in Cyberville!

Pay attention to your surroundings. Look up from your iPhone. Take notice of who is standing next to you while you wait for your nachos. Just showing simple awareness is often enough to convince a would-be thief to ply their trade elsewhere.


Keep Your Valuables up Front

Zip those bags, ladies!

Do you carry a wallet or phone in your pants pocket? Then make darn sure those items are in your FRONT pocket. Wrap a few fat rubberbands around said items, too, so that they “catch” on your pocket liner when you—or a pickpocket—try to slide it out.

If you are inclined to carry a purse, satchel, or some other sort of bag, first of all, keep it small. Secondly, keep it visible (i.e., sling it across your body so that the bag itself is in FRONT of your hips/torso). And lastly, consider investing in a slash-proof bag. I am a HUGE fan of the PacSafe brand. Not only are they slash-proof, but they also have locking zippers and RFID-blocking pockets. Oh, and they don’t look totally dorky, either.

Lastly, ladies, keep those purses ZIPPED. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve caught myself doing this: reaching into my bag for lip balm or gum…and then forgetting to re-zip my bag. I just let it all hang out in the open for anyone to access. And I’m supposed to be on top of these kinds of things!! So do better than me. I promise this is something that I’m working on being more conscious about!

Wear Totally Unsexy Shoes

Not sexy…but practical

By far the most common injury among stadium spectators is falls. Every year, dozens of people bite it on the stairs. Sometimes, they’re just drunk, but other times, it’s because slick-soled footwear and smooth concrete don’t mix. So make sure your lovely tootsies are shod in something that has good grip on the pavement.

Another consideration: unless you have a chauffeur or a VIP valet parking permit, chances are, you’ll be hoofing it quite a distance between your mode of vehicular transit and your stadium seat. Wear shoes you can walk a few miles in.

Still another argument for practical footwear: you may need to leave the scene in a hurry. More details on that below. (Oooo, suspense!)

Don’t be a Dumbass: Have a Designated Driver

A pregnant friend doing her 9-month good samaritan stint

Do I even have to say this? Flip a coin and select a member of your party as the designated driver for the event. Even better: make sure to bring a pregnant friend who can’t imbibe booze (kidding…sort of. But think about it: this is one of the few people in your posse who won’t resent the forced sobriety!). Buy them all the free nachos and garlic fries they can eat. Quid pro quo, baby. (See how I snuck in another baby reference?)

Always Have an Out

Imagine all of these folks trying to get to the exits at once….

Finally, you’ve achieved the prize! You’re in your coveted seat at Super Bowl 50! But before you settle in to full-on revelry, take a moment to look around you. Identify at least three routes of egress that you could use if you had to get out of the area pronto. When you have a choice of where to sit in a large venue, always pick a seat as close to the aisle as possible. Think of it like finding a seat on an airplane near the exit row. You never want to be fashionably late to a mass exodus party.

Also, should you find yourself swept up in an Exit Stampede, make sure you’ve pre-selected a rendezvous point with the other members of your party, just in case you get separated.

And here’s the part where I reiterate my earlier plea for you to wear comfy shoes that you can run in if needed. Yes, my Californian brothers and sisters, this is one of those rare cases where flip-flops are NOT the answer.

So there you have it: a few pretty damn easy things you can do to take care of yourself, take care of your amigos, and still have a kick-ass time. Oh, and bonus: during this rainy, freezing El Nino weather, the football gods have smiled brightly on the City of Santa Clara and blessed it with a predicted high of 79 F! Which of course gets me thinking about staying safe in the sun…but that’s another topic for another time.

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