We in Brazil are still in shock and sadness after the horrific Kiss nightclub fire on Jan 27. Our sympathies go out to all the victims and their families and loved ones.
We can’t bring back any of the people lost, but we can all work on two levels to help prevent this from happening again. First, some measures we can take personally when we go to a club…so we exit healthy and unharmed.
In Brazil the custom is to pay the entire bill at time of exiting, and the first concern of the security staff may be that no one leaves without paying. Until this sort of thinking changes from not losing money to not losing lives, we have to take some measures ourselves to help ensure our safety.
1. Check the outside.
Look at the building the club is in. Do the doors and exits seem like they would permit a large number of people to exit rapidly if needed? Don’t be ashamed to ask the doorman about emergency exits….are there any, or is the only exit the front door? If there are emergency exits, are they locked? Do the doors open outward to allow for easier egress if needed? Be especially cautious of any “underground” or “after hours” clubs that might be even more poorly regulated than legal establishments.
2. Take a walk around when you first get in.
This is to look for emergency exits and how crowded is the club. If there are no emergency exits that function, and the only way out is by a long path (particularly if the way out involves stairs), it’s probably good to go back to the entrance, ask for a manager, complain, then exit the club. If you see possible fire sources such as lit cigarettes or candles, best to exit to find another place to party.
There are always (maybe smaller) alternative places to go. You might feel safer in a club with multiple exits that are clearly marked with lighted signs, evidence of emergency lighting and fire extinguishers that might actually work if needed.
3. Best to go in a group.
On many levels it’s good to go with friends. If you get sick, or need to leave, or want to go home with someone…it’s good to have someone who you can trust there, people who will look out for each other. It’s ideal if one member of your group will agree not to drink alcohol, so you will get home safe and not end up arrested. You might take turns as the “designated driver”.
Make sure that everyone in your group knows how to get out in an emergency, and agree that at the first sign of trouble, you will all go to an exit, even without looking for the others in the group. You all need to get out right away, independently if needed. At least agree to meet at the entrance if any of you sense any problems.
4. Avoid fights.
If someone challenges or insults you, walk away. You don’t know the mental state of the other person, or what he is carrying, so it’s just not worth the risk. If you see a fight, go to the entrance and tell someone from the security staff.
5. Watch your drink.
Always keep an eye on your drink. Drink spiking happens, and some drugs such as GHB are colorless and tasteless. Cover your drink with your hand when you walk through crowds, and don’t accept a drink from anyone except a bartender or trusted friend. Don’t share drinks with people you don’t know.
6. Don’t buy drugs.
You really don’t know what you are getting. Probably even the person selling doesn’t know if what they are selling is too strong, or how badly it is adulterated.
7. Keep hydrated.
Alcohol and if you are imbibing in any drugs, you will get dehyradted. Many deaths from ecstasy for example are due to hyperthermia and dehydration—clubbers dancing and sweating and not drinking water. Keep drinking water throughout the night no matter what you are doing.
8. Be careful about going home with strangers.
Better not to go home with someone you don’t know. Don’t drink so much that your judgment is impaired, but if you do go home with someone, make sure your friends approve of him first, that they know his cell number (confirmed by calling), and that any strangers realize that at least one of your friends can identify him.
9. Get home safe.
Don’t drive if you are over the legal limit, again, it’s not worth your life or the risk of getting arrested. When you walk out of the club, keep alert for any threats: hopefully you picked a well-lit spot for your car, and as you are walking, don’t be talking on your phone…that just distracts you and makes you an easier target.
Don’t accept any driver who is drunk either. Do him a favor, ask to see his keys, then keep them. Some people keep R$ 50 inside their socks and shoe in case of emergency for a taxi. Even before you go out, have the number of a taxi company on your cellphone.
These are some common sense tips for keeping you safer when you go out, but let us think also in the bigger picture. If you frequent any clubs that you suspect are unsafe, take some responsibility for yourself and others and contact the fire marshal. Don’t expect someone else to do that. Then follow through with your contact to see that the place has been inspected and cleared, or not. To prevent further disasters like Santa Maria, we each have to act not only for our own good but for the good too of all of our friends who might not have your intelligence and initiative.
Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)