The Women's March is an incredible day to band together with fellow women and allies, to flood the streets, and to raise our voices. At the end of the day, you're left feeling empowered, inspired, and full of hope for ourselves and future generations. However, like any big event, there are a few safety precautions to keep in mind if you're planning on attending. Here are eight tips to stay safe at the 2019 Women's March this year, so you can be part of the #WomensWave without incident.
For many, large gatherings of people can be overwhelming. I myself have struggled with anxiety attending things like concerts, rallies, and even movies after horrifying events like the Charlottesville violence and the Las Vegas mass shooting. However, there are a few things to remember. First, these incidents are rare. It doesn't always seem that way thanks to extensive media coverage, but statistics are on your side. Second, avoiding these types of events out of fear means that evil has won. Go out into the world, live your life, and look out for yourself. You'll be OK.
As you start painting your Women's March 2019 signs and rounding up your girl tribe for January 19, keep these safety tips in your back pocket.
1. Make a plan.
The Women's March in Washington D.C., as well as many of the sister marches across the country, can get massive. It's important to go into the day with a plan, and that everyone in your group knows it. Look up the event information well in advance, so you can figure out where to park, where to catch a shuttle, how to get to the starting point, and so on. Having a clear plan can help eliminate (or at least reduce) any chaos the morning of the march. You might not think of looking up the weather as super important, but it'll feel crucial when you're standing in the freezing rain with no jacket, as The Cut highlighted.
2. Pick a group meeting spot.
If you're marching with a group, pick a designated meeting spot in case you get separated. As Amnesty International explained to Teen Vogue, "Cell phones may not work well in large crowds, so keep track of your friends during the protest or use apps like FireChat, which work without an internet connection, to stay in touch." Make sure everyone in your group knows where the meeting spot is (including the street name and the name of any nearby buildings). Double and triple check that any children in your party know to head there if separated from the group.
3. Stay hydrated.
This one might sound silly (after all, it's not even hot outside in most places) but don't underestimate the heat generated by huge crowds of people. You'll be on your feet and in crowds for the entire day, and the last thing you want to do is faint. Plus, as It's Pronounced Metrosexual explained, "Prepping with a lot of hydration will help you keep your voice, and keep your energy up." The last thing you want to be at a rally is exhausted. Most marches permit you to bring a small backpack or purse. Toss a water bottle in yours, as well as a snack or two.
4. Keep your phone charged (but prepare to lose service).
There are few things more stressful than being lost or separated from your friends with a dead cell phone. Make sure your phone has a full battery as you head out for the day, and try to conserve battery by closing any apps you aren't using. That said... there is a pretty good chance you'll lose service in a big crowd. That's why having a clear plan and a designated meeting spot are so important. USA Today even recommended "writ[ing] emergency contact numbers on an index card or even your arm," so you'll be safe even if your cell loses power.
5. Be level-headed and stay calm.
Even though 99 percent of the people at the Women's March will be there for the same reasons, don't be totally surprised if you bump into some contrarians looking to stir up a debate along the way. My personal recommendation is to ignore those you disagree with and instead focus on the spirit of the day. However, if you do feel compelled to engage, make sure not to lose your cool. Intense emotions can lead to dangerous situations, and that's not something you want. The ACLU has an entire rundown on your rights at marches and protests on their site, and looking over them before you head out on Saturday is definitely a good call.
6. Bring a bag of various necessities.
I've already mentioned keeping a bottle of water and a snack in your bag during the march, and there are a few other necessities I'd recommend. Make sure to bring your I.D., bank card, and some cash, in case you need to purchase anything throughout the day. The Cut also pointed out that bringing a plastic poncho rather than an umbrella is a good idea, as it will fit more easily in your bag. Jot down a list of phone numbers of everyone in your group, as well as an emergency contact, in the event your phone dies or is lost. I keep a First Aid kit in my bag as well, in the off chance it's needed. Leave any valuables at home, in case your bag is stolen or misplaced.
7. Obey the local laws.
If you're traveling for the march, or even if you're not, it's important to understand and respect the laws of where you're marching. It can be easy to feel "immune" to discipline in the midst of a big event like the Women's March, but that's no excuse to break laws. For example, the official Women's March reminded participants, "While marijuana is legal in D.C., the march will be on federal property and national park land, where marijuana is still illegal."
8. Familiarize yourself with the march route and surrounding areas.
Before the day of the march, take a few minutes to look at the map and familiarize yourself with the route and area. Make sure you know how to get from the end point back to your chosen parking spot. The streets will be crowded and Google Maps may or may not work, so avoid running around like a chicken with your head cut off by understanding the lay of the land. It's Pronounced Metrosexual advised that planning your exit from any march or protest is particularly important: "If you’re driving, park at least several blocks away from the protest. If you’re getting picked up, plan your ride beforehand (and make it at least several blocks away from the action).