On Tuesday night I watched the Horizon programme on How to Survive a Disaster, which I thought was pretty interesting. I think I am unlikely to walk the emergency route out of a hotel whenever I stay in one, but the programme had some interesting points about human nature and are worth pondering.
- Some people died in a fire in Manchester in the 1970s because they were in the cafeteria at Woolworths and basically didn’t want to leave their uneaten food.
- When the World Trade Center was struck by the planes, some people sat at their desks and finished e-mails etc and waited 30 or 40 minutes before they considered evacuating.
- One firm, Morgan Stanley, lost very few employees on 11 September 2001 because they had practiced evacuating regularly so people know what to do and how to get out of the building.
- Peer pressure is a big factor. Even if people see smoke etc, if no-one else reacts people will often stay in dangerous situations because they might be embarrassed if they “make a fuss”.
Sometimes when the fire alarm goes off at work, I see my colleagues look about confused and I will just tell people to evacuate and as soon as someone had confirmed it is ok to go they get on with it and head for the fire exits, but they need that confirmation to go.
There is a summary of the key points here. It could save your life...
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