In my last article relating to safety during the elections, I took time to write about conditions that may tell an individual that it was time to ensure his/her personal safety. This was largely because of speculations about likely violence during the voting exercise.
However, in this article, still on public safety and relating it to the forth coming governorship and state houses of assembly elections, I want to draw the attention of the public to other hazards that are always connected with large public events like the elections. If you were very observant during the last presidential elections, you probably would have observed general hazards which are usually present wherever there is a large crowd of people (e.g. voting exercise).
According to the UK HSE Executive, crowd related hazards may include the following:
2. Crushing against fixed objects, such as barriers
3. Trampling under foot
4. Surging, swaying or rushing
5. Aggressive behavior, particularly between groups of rival supporters
6. Dangerous behavior, such as climbing on equipment, running down step, slopes or throwing objects.
In our climate, things like
1. Excessive heat, if the election’s day is very sunny can cause heat exhaustion.
It may therefore be better for individuals to take numbers and look for a shade and wait for their turns than to continue to queue under the hot sun. It is also vital for individuals to arm themselves with water to regularly rehydrate as they wait to cast their ballots.
2. Prolong standing in the queue and under the sun is another hazard, which can lead to fainting.
As a matter of fact, one of my colleagues lost her father on the last presidential election’s day. She said that her father went to vote and on the queue, he slumped and hit his head on a hard object and no skilled first aid was applied and that was how the man died. What a sad event!
Another of my neighbor also related how overcrowding at her polling unit almost suffocated her during the last presidential election. She even vowed not to go and vote again due to the fear.
As you may know event management is still a very big challenge in our country. For this reason, nothing much is done to ensure peoples’ safety during large events. Crowd control is either too weak or non-existent. This is why it is vital that anyone going to vote must also be conscious of his or her health and other hazards related to public events such as the elections and take adequate precautions to forestall adverse events.
I also recommend that as you go out to cast your vote, do some risk assessment of the venue especially with regards to the crowd and their behavior, enquire to know whether there is any First Aid stand nearby. Usually at some polling stations, there are Red Cross First Aid volunteers around or other agencies who can attend to any unforeseen health emergencies. This will help to keep you safe.