A roaring, toxic fire engulfed a nightclub early Sunday morning in Brazil, killing over 230 patrons; most of whom were college students. Fire Inspectors believe the deadly fire started when a band's pyrotechnics ignited the insulation in the ceiling. Fumes from the burning ceiling caused a huge haze of smoke and most likely is what ultimately killed most of the victims in the building. The nightclub "Kiss" was windowless and had only one way in and one way out, that ONE door was said to be blocked and barracaded by dead bodies when fire fighters got to the scene and tried entering the venue. There WERE reports that club security was refusing to let people leave if their tab wasn't paid in full but that didn't last long as crowds began to stampede and trample their way out.
The image I get when reading this story is one of horror and sheer terror. I've been in clubs and concerts where the crowd is so thick you can barely move. Me, being claustrophobic and other people's sweat(aphobic) I most times will find an area away from the crowd!! Any public place can get craaaaazy, but when you add alcohol, music, and adrenaline it can get that much more unstable.
So I wanted to give you some tips on how to stay SAFE in a crowded venue...
- Identify ALL exits... whether it be marked EMERGENCY or not; because in case of an emergency, guess what... you're going to have to use it!!
- If it feels TOO crowded, it probably is. No one wants to party in an uncomfortable setting anyway, so if you can't comfortably move around; you should probably think about trying a different club for the night.
- If a building alarm goes off, or (if the music is too loud to hear the alarms) you see the fire alarm lights flashing... GET OUT RIGHT THEN!!! Don't wait to see if anyone else moves, don't shrug it off, GET OUT!!!!!
- Tell everyone in your group which way to go. Of course most patrons will be heading for the front door or whichever door they came in, but YOU being the smart person that you are have already identified ALL of the exits so you'll be able to get your group out quicker by heading to the closest emergency exit, side door, back door etc.
In most situations like this, people get trampled while trying to exit because everyone has the SAME exit strategy... and even if crowds are moving it'll take longer for everyone to exit thru the same door.
5. If the smoke gets too thick to see, you need to duck down to the clean air (I'd crawl in order to stay stable and not get pushed over) and find the nearest wall. Once you locate the nearest wall follow the wall along until you get to an exit. Of course their are dangers in ducking down or crawling in a crowd but you have to decide what's safest for you and the situation you're in.
6. Once you've gotten out of the building, move away from it and go to your group's meet up spot. (the group's car, public transit, shuttle, etc...)
Please remember when in a situation such as this, and when in any emergency situation it is imperative to avoid hesitation. Do what you know is best and get to a safe place as soon as possible.