NFPA tips offer guidance on keeping yourself safe in places of public assembly

Blog Post created by laurenbackstrom Employee on Dec 5, 2016

NFPA Public Assembly Safety Tip SheetNo one thinks something will be a problem, until it becomes a problem. Complacency is one of the greatest dangers when it comes to fire safety - particularly in public settings - and it may have been a factor in this weekend’s California warehouse fire. In what may be a small sliver of positivity after a large disaster like this one, people tend to stop and think a bit more about how fragile their lives are and, and at least for a short period of time, work to stay extra vigilant and careful.


We hope that everyone takes a few moments during this time to review safety tips that can help keep you stay safe the next time you are in a place of public assembly. By taking personal responsibility and keeping some basic precautions in mind, we can all be safer, and hopefully help reduce the loss of lives and number of injuries that result in this type of situation.


Before you enter

  • Take a good look. Does the building appear to be in a condition that makes you feel safe? Is the main entrance wide and does it open outward to allow easy exit? Is the outside area clear of materials stored against the building or blocking exits?
  • Have a communication plan
    Identify a relative or friend to contact in case of emergency and you are separated from family or friends.
  • Plan a meeting place
    Pick a meeting place outside to meet family or friends with whom you are attending the function. If there is an emergency, be sure to meet them there.

When you enter

  • Locate exits immediately
    When you enter a building, make sure to identify all available exits. Some exits may be in front and some in back of you. Be prepared to use your closest exit. You may not be able to use the main exit.
  • Check for clear exit paths
    Make sure aisles are wide enough and not obstructed by chairs or furniture. Check to make sure your exit door is not blocked or chained. If there are not at least two exits or exit paths are blocked, report the violation to management and leave the building if it is not immediately addressed. Call the local fire marshal to register a complaint.
  • Do you feel safe?
    Does the building appear to be overcrowded? Are there fire sources such as candles burning, cigarettes or cigars burning, pyrotechnics, or other heat sources that may make you feel unsafe? Are there safety systems in place such as alternative exits, sprinklers, and smoke alarms? Ask the management for clarification on your concerns. If you do not feel safe in the building, leave immediately.

During an emergency

  • React immediately
    If an alarm sounds, you see smoke or fire, or other unusual disturbance, immediately exit the building in an orderly fashion.
  • Get out, stay out!
    Once you have escaped, stay out. Under no circumstances should you ever go back into a burning building. Let trained firefighters conduct rescue operations.


Download NFPA’s safety tip sheet for places of public assembly to share with your friends, family and community.