As the largest indoor rodeo in the world, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo attracts thousands of visitors. In fact, the population of Houston increases by over 16,000 during the event. It’s good for the city as a whole, both because of the funds raised for youth and education, and by promoting better agricultural and livestock practices.
It’s also a whole lot of fun, for adults and children alike. There’s always a downside though, which comes in the form of accidents that occur whenever large crowds gather. Regardless of the levels of security and good safety practice the show organizers put in place, human nature and error intervenes.
Understanding how to keep yourself and your family safe at the rodeo makes you aware of the potential dangers, and arms you with the knowledge you need to spot and avoid those accidents waiting to happen.
General Safety Tips for Adults
- Go in a group. Unfortunately, there are always shady characters on the look out for lone individuals to prey on. In a group, you present a less attractive target and have the backup of friends or family if anyone behaves inappropriately towards you.
- Keep cell phones handy and charged. Make sure your phone is fully charged before you leave home. You never know when you’ll need it for more than social media posting. Get everyone in the group to agree to answer their phone if it rings, as often a phone call in the middle of an event is ignored.
- Wear distinctive clothes you’ll recognize from a distance or in a crowd. Not only does this make it easier to spot someone in a crush of people, it makes it easier to describe a missing person to security personnel. It’s also a good child safety tip (see below).
- Locate the exits. In an emergency, everyone will rush to the nearest exit. You can improve your own chances of escape if you know the location of alternative exits as well as the one closest to you. Do a quick scout of your location and note the fastest route out in case you need it.
- Locate first aid rooms or stands so you know where to go and who to contact in the case of accidents. Hopefully you won’t need it, but knowing in advance is better than panicking if anyone in your party suffers an injury.
- Carry hand sanitizer with you and use it often to clean your own hands and those of children. Animals can carry the E.coli bacteria, which is easily transmitted if you touch a contaminated surface then touch your mouth, nose or eyes. We all like snacks at the rodeo, and it makes sense to take precautions against food poisoning or other infections picked up from surfaces you lean on.
Tips for Parents and Kids
Small children are easily separated from their parents in a crowd. It only takes a moment to lose grip on a hand or take your eye off a toddler, and in that moment they vanish from sight. Here are some precautions to guard against this happening and what to do if it does:
- Make yourself known to staff at the event and find out who to contact if your child gets lost. You’ll save precious minutes if you know immediately where to go for help.
- Take a photo of the child with your cell phone before you leave for the event. Having a photo taken on the day shows exactly how they look and what they’re wearing. The photo can be quickly shared amongst all security staff, making rapid identification much faster. It also saves you the difficulty of trying to describe your child when you’re filled with worry and anxiety.
- Put some identifying information on the child. Most parents don’t want to blatantly advertise their child’s name and contact details, but alternatives include your name and cell phone number tucked inside shoes or pockets. Tell your child to remember where this helpful information is if they happen to get lost.
- Make sure children know who the ‘safe’ adults are. Point out uniforms and colors, and tell them to look for those if they get lost.
- Make sure your phone is charged, and always answer if it rings. The first point of contact when a lost child is found will be via phone if possible.
- Carry photo ID with you. You may need it when you collect a lost child, as authorities may want to establish that the child is, indeed, yours.
Forewarned is forearmed, as they say. Given the thousands of people who attend the rodeo every year, there are very few accidents or emergencies. These tips should help you stay on the side of safety and have a great time.