Chicago, IL -- Last night the Cubbies broke the curse and won 8-7 in extra innings. The city is in celebration mode (and probably exhaustion), so that means that many events will be taking place. How do we keep everyone safe during these celebrations? Let's go over some of the most important special events hazards.
1) Overcrowding is an often-ignored hazard enforced by the fire marshal. Areas that are likely to fill quickly (and overfill), should be patrolled and overcrowding prevention should be enforced. Fire personnel should not only watch for overcrowding, but also look for sterno warmers, food warming, cooking units, and other fire hazards.
2) Pathway obstructions should be monitored for any hazards or obstructions. If anything is found, it needs to be immediately remedied to prevent a disaster in the event of a fire or another emergency.
3) Venue staff need to have an emergency preparedness plan in place. The plan needs to be cross-coordinated and communicated with any and all staff that will be working at the event including emergency staff, security, and outsourced staff.
4) Communication is key to getting safety buy-in from the sports teams. Fire and police personnel should have a meeting to discuss safety prior to the event, so the team is aware of the safety rules. Having a meeting before the event can prevent conflicts and create a working relationship.
5) This may not be a FIRE hazard, but it is a hazard in the event of a fire - confusing egress and exit pathways. Many sports venues or large-scale event space have maze-like exit paths. In the event of a fire, this can be confusing and spark panic. Panic + large crowds = stampedes and crushing hazards. Event attendees should take note of where the exits are while event managers should continuously provide exit and evacuation information throughout the event and posted where everyone can see.
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