People little realise stairs are only escape route in emergencies

March 29th, 2009 - 2:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, March 29 (IANS) We use the stairs only when we are shut out of elevators or in a tearing hurry — but how many of us realise that they are the only escape mode during an emergency like the 9/11 or a raging fire.
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) researchers examined what people know about stairs being an emergency evacuation route and found that the answer is — not nearly enough.

Researchers studied people’s speeds during three full-building fire drill evacuations and compared the data to already published results, including those from the 9/11 disaster, to identify the factors that could hamper rapid evacuation using stairways.

The research provides limited insight into how people react and behave during evacuations, and that for the most part, variances in speed cannot be explained by the evacuation models currently used in building design and emergency planning.

“Clearly, there is a need to better understand all the factors that impact the ability of building occupants to take appropriate protective action in the event of a building emergency,” the researchers said.

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