Tips to stay safe at New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival: Jazz Fest safety tips

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is one big lollapalooza of music, food, culture, art and fun. But like any big event, Jazz Fest can be dangerous. Here are tips to stay safe at New Orleans Jazz Fest and in the Big Easy in general.

Stash cash, credit cards and any currency. Buy tickets ahead of time so you aren't carrying wads of money. You'll need some cash to pay for eats as most Jazz Fest food booths don't fuss with credit cards. Keep one credit card with you for emergencies. Carry cash in uncommon places. Put it in an empty travel mug you pretend to sip. Hide money in your shoe or in a slit in your belt. Pin a cash pocket inside your shirt or coat. Leave the rest at home with your checkbook, valuables and expensive jewelry.

Don't make yourself vulnerable. Stay near groups of people if you're alone. Dress down so you don't look wealthy. Don't carry a camera draped around your neck. It makes you look like a tourist and an easy mark. Don't carry a purse on a long strap or wear beads, lanyard or strap. These can be used to grab and strangle. Carry a wallet with a chain.

Work that cellphone. Set you phone to speed dial emergency. Put a tracer app on it in case it's stolen. Let people know where you'll be. Text if anything looks suspicious. If approached, make a show of calling so they know you have back up. Fake call if no one's available. Set your phone's GPS to track your location in case you get grabbed. In an emergency, turn your ringer down so it can't be heard. Learn to dial or text without looking, so you can call without attracting an attacker's notice.

Carry makeshift self defense weapons. Don't carry a gun. It makes you a target. And weapons aren't allowed at Jazz Fest. Do carry a lighter, walking stick, metal flashlight or umbrella (all make excellent self defense weapon without being obvious). Carry pepper spray in a pocket or bag.

Identify safe places and people. Note where police officers and security personnel are stationed. Keep an eye on them. There are two First Aid stations near the Grand Marshal tent and Acura display. The police kiosk is next to the Grand Marshal tent too. Information booths are near both. In weather-related emergencies, stay away from large portable structures like tents or stages. Keep away from electrical wires, sound systems and equipment. Locate the storm shelter.