It is human nature to play Monday morning (or Tuesday morning) quarterback: the day or two after a tragedy when the information has all been gathered and the details have all been spliced together forming a full picture of exactly what has happened.
We somehow feel better once we place blame, or when folks claim responsibility.
There was another horrific nightclub fire over the weekend in Brazil killing at least 230 people and injuring hundreds. Since the year 2000, there have been over 900 reported deaths due to fires in nightclubs/bars from around the world – many of the fires caused by sparks from indoor pyrotechnic shows.
A large percentage of the unfortunate individuals who perished in these fires, were killed by smoke inhalation after trying desperately to find an exit, or by being trampled by a stampede of people fleeing a single exit.
A worst nightmare comes true. No one goes out for the evening even considering that something like this will happen. Many will never even give it a second thought.
What can we do to protect ourselves from becoming a part of such a tragic situation?
The key is listening to that little voice in your head that says:
“This room looks too crowded”
“I don’t feel safe here”
“I only see one exit” or “I don’t see any exits”
“What would happen if there was a fire?”
We have to remember, especially when we travel out of Canada, that the standards for fire safety, occupancy, etc. are going to be different in other countries. They may have standards, but they may not enforced as strictly as they are at home. We have to take some responsibility for our personal safety.
Last year, I wrote about the “Anatomy of a crowd” from an Event Planner’s perspective. Here is a teeny piece of that article:
Fear also can drive a group to doing things that they wouldn’t normally do. We have seen programs where cruise ships are sinking, and people will do anything to get on the lifeboat….forget about women and children first.
When we plan events, we often think about the flow of traffic, but we don’t often sit back and think: “If things turn ugly, how would I deal with it”.
What if there were a fire? Would everyone panic and run for the door, causing a stampede?
Weather can turn a crowd and have life threatening consequences. What would happen if a tornado came bearing down on a coliseum filled with 50,000 spectators? Would they leave in an orderly fashion? I think not.
Crowd control is a critical component to planning and must never be overlooked, especially if you have planned an event where alcohol is being served. One tip to identify potential opportunity for disaster is to think, “what’s the worst thing that could happen?”. Determine the level of risk and plan accordingly.
The reality is that things can go wrong in a heartbeat – and we can’t always count on others for our safety in crowded situations: We don’t have a roadmap about how folks will react.
When all else fails – trust your own gut, your own instincts, your own inner voice and leave.
Judy Kucharuk is owner of Footprint Management Systems Inc. and specializes in Green Meetings and Event Innovation. Currently President of GMIC Canada Chapter in Formation. For more info log onto her blog www.managefootprint.blogspot.com or follow her on twitter @judylaine