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Club-goers urged to think of safety first

If you regularly attend nightclubs, you've probably noticed that there's a little more uncertainty in the air. Tragedies inside nightclubs both within the United States and internationally have changed the way that people are viewing nightclub safety.

Recently, George Washington University's supervisor of health and safety offered some advice to students who go clubbing:

1. Look at your surroundings as soon as you enter the club and locate the fire exits. Examine them with a critical eye and ask yourself the following questions:

-- Are they easily accessible or are some of them blocked off by furniture, band equipment, chairs or boxes of supplies?

-- Are the exits well marked? Can people quickly spot them in an emergency?

-- Is the size of the crowd reasonable for the space? If the crowd is too big, panic can cause people to press the exits closed instead of opening them.

-- Are any of the exits chained shut? If so, you don't want to spend your evening there because that's a sure sign that the management isn't safety-conscious.

-- Does the club have emergency equipment on hand in case of a fire? Are there sprinkler systems and strobe alarms visible on the ceilings or walls?

-- Beware of stairs in clubs that have levels. Stairs can collapse if too many people rush them at once in a panic.

2. Be prepared to react quickly, because tragedies can happen rapidly. For example, a 2003 club fire killed 100 people after a band's tour manager accidentally lit the stage insulation on fire. The entire building went up in flames within five minutes. Keep a few thoughts in mind:

-- If you see or smell smoke, leave by the nearest exit even if no alarm has been sounded.

-- Don't stop to gather possessions, wait for your credit card to be brought back or anything else.

-- If an alarm goes off or there is obviously something wrong, don't wait to find all of your companions. Get to an exit, and trust that they'll do the same.

No matter what steps patrons take to ensure their personal well-being, nightclubs still have a responsibility to keep their premises safe.If you end up injured in a club that's negligently maintained, talk to an attorney as soon as possible.

Source: Consumer Affairs, "How to stay safe in a night club," Daryl Nelson, accessed May 18, 2017

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