Four Health and Safety Tips for Mass Gatherings

Posted on by Ethan Riley, Health Communications Specialist, Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and Taylor Price, Campaign Manager, "If You See Something, Say Something®" Campaign, U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Berlin, Germany - April 5, 2015: People are watching a shop on the amphitheater's terrace at Mauerpark Berlin. The Wall Park is a park in Berlin. Its name dates back to the Berlin Wall , built in 1961 , the border between the then districts of Prenzlauer Berg and Wedding formed at this point.

There is strength in numbers – both in public health and in public safety. The more people who take action to protect themselves, the better prepared a community is for an emergency.

Communities take different forms. At a mass gathering like the Super Bowl, the Olympics, or in a public place like the airport, the community includes people you do not know, but whose actions could help prevent a catastrophe or save your life. Here are four things you can do to prepare yourself and protect others when traveling to, and attending, a mass gathering event.

Speech bubble with the words "If you see something, say something."“If You See Something, Say Something®”

Public health and safety are the shared responsibilities of the whole community. Everyone has to play their part to keep our neighborhoods, communities, and the nation safe.

If You See Something, Say Something®” is the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s national campaign that raises public awareness of the indicators of terrorism and terrorism-related crime, as well as the importance of reporting suspicious activity to state and local law enforcement. In other words, if you see something you know should not be there or observe behavior that does not seem quite right, say something.

The “If You See Something, Say Something®” campaign encourages people to follow their intuition and report suspicious activity, but leave it to law enforcement to decide whether an observed activity or behavior merits investigation. To report suspicious activity, contact local law enforcement, and describe in as much detail as possible what you saw, including:

  • Who or what you saw;What is considered suspicious activity? • Unusual items or situations, such as a vehicle that is parked in an odd location, or an unattended package or luggage is unattended • Eliciting information: A person questions individuals at a level beyond curiosity about a building’s purpose, operations, security procedures and/or personnel, shift changes, etc. • Observation or surveillance, where a person is showing particular interest in a public building or government facility including someone extended loitering without explanation, unusual, repeated, and/or prolonged observation of a building, taking notes or measurements; counting paces; sketching floor plans, etc.
  • When you saw it;
  • Where it occurred; and
  • Why it’s suspicious.

If there is an emergency, call 9–1–1.

For more information about the “If You See Something, Say Something®” campaign and to view Public Service Announcement videos, please visit

Know before you go

Think back to the last time you planned a vacation or weekend getaway, and how much time you spent shopping for airfare and comparing hotel rates. Not surprisingly, most people invest much less effort into gathering safety information about their final destination—and all points in between—before they get there.

  • Do your homework. Research the seasonal health and natural hazards. Monitor the local forecast up until the day you leave, and pack accordingly. Check for S. Department of State travel warnings and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) travel health notices if traveling overseas.
  • Be informed. Create a Twitter List for your trip that includes local public health, emergency management, and law enforcement agencies. Add the phone number for local law enforcement to your phone.
  • Share the details of your trip. Identify an emergency contact and make sure they have the itinerary for your trip, including your airplane and hotel reservations.
  • Identify an emergency meeting place. Wherever you go—the airport, the hotel, the stadium, etc. — make sure everyone in your group knows where to meet in case you get separated in an emergency.

Create a travel-size emergency kit

Emergency kits come in all shapes and sizes from large 72-hour family supply kits to smaller “go kits” for use in an evacuation. CDC recommends that anyone who travels—from daily commuters to world business travelers—also prepare a travel health kit that includes:

  • First-aid supplies, including a first aid reference card, bandages, antiseptic, aloe, and a thermometer
  • Important papers, including hardcopies of passports, medical insurance cards, and prescriptions
  • Personal needs, including prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines for diarrhea, allergies, asthma, motion sickness
  • Items specific to your destination, the time of year, and your planned activities, including water purification tablets, sunscreen, and insect repellent

Wash your hands.

When many people are gathered in one place, germs that are highly contagious, like influenza and norovirus, can easily spread person-to-person and on shared surfaces like airplane tray tables, restaurant menus, and restroom door handles. As a result, you or a loved one may bring home more than a lousy t-shirt to your friends and family.

Washing your hands with soap and water is one of (if not the) best ways to protect yourself from getting sick. Follow these five steps to wash your hands the right way every time.

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air-dry them.

In addition to washing your hands and avoiding close contact with people who are sick, the single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year. Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every year by the end of October, if possible.


Posted on by Ethan Riley, Health Communications Specialist, Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and Taylor Price, Campaign Manager, "If You See Something, Say Something®" Campaign, U.S. Department of Homeland SecurityTags , , , , , , , , , ,

4 comments on “Four Health and Safety Tips for Mass Gatherings”

Comments listed below are posted by individuals not associated with CDC, unless otherwise stated. These comments do not represent the official views of CDC, and CDC does not guarantee that any information posted by individuals on this site is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. Read more about our comment policy ».

    Our family was exsposed to my great neice who had a possitive A flu virus. My son has asthma he was really ill. He missed several weeks of school. He was encouraged to go back to school because he had alot of make up work. This is when he was yet again exsposed to some form of flu. He missed more school. He got from notes and was followed by his dr. Who didn’t want him in school. He felt better and went back to school. He sat beside a young girl who had missed one day but was made to go to school sick. He came home yet again ill. His dr was very upset. He was already battling a low immunity system because of the other illnesses. She wrote a note letting the school know to keep ill kids home and that he wasn’t coming. He said he felt the urge to go sick because he was teased by a teacher and other children for missing school. I told him it doesn’t matter what the teacher thinks just what his dr said for him to do. Parents need to know to listen to their children this flu keeps returning and is very dangerous. Don’t send them keep them home.

    The topic and information in this Public Health Matters blog post is vital information for every community. As a community, it is truly everyone’s responsibility to be prepared for an emergency and protect themselves as well as others from communicable diseases. “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign provides citizen awareness to look out for suspicious activity to protect the community. This campaign is especially significant in today’s society where increased actions of violence are unfortunately becoming the norm. Other CDC recommendations of researching and planning before an event as well as performing hand hygiene are evidence-based strategies. These recommendations can greatly impact both the safety and health of a community if they are implemented by us, citizens.

    As a registered nurse working at a local community hospital and active volunteer within the community, it is my duty and obligation to inform and educate the public on health and safety issues. I must always be prepared to defend and care for the public in a variety of different ways, such as terrorist attack, natural disaster, or when urgent or emergent situations arise. This blog opened my eyes and gave me some helpful tips about traveling and becoming more aware of ways to prevent an terroristic related attack that would put people in harms way. I also appreciated the list of necessary precautionary measures when traveling, which include, adding the local emergency numbers in your phone, being aware of the local outbreaks of diseases, and weather in the area, making an evacuation route or meeting spot when in a crowd, and identifying your emergency contract . As a registered nurse I took an oath to do no harm, therefore, I will do my due-diligence in morally and ethically protecting my communities people. Nurses have a distinct instinct and that is to protect the people around them by acting fast, staying calm in chaos, and being resourceful in a time of need.

    Traveling can be a trigger of anxiety for many people, myself included. This blog post was very informative and useful for anyone’s pursuit of safety. I feel as if I learned a great deal and the new knowledge will equip me to make better, more informed decisions in the future. I especially favor how the author was able to provide practical tips that are easy to execute and with the hyperlinks included, makes the task that much easier. With my impending graduation where hundreds of people are expected to attend, I am glad I was able to find this blog. I was attracted to this specific article to discover ways I can better serve to protect myself and others within my community. Thank you!

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Page last reviewed: February 1, 2018
Page last updated: February 1, 2018