On January 24, Beijing's municipal bureaus of parks, culture and commerce jointly announced new safety regulations for public places likely to get crowded. They will come into effect on March 24 and emphasize fire safety and mass evacuation in case of emergency.
At the same news conference, organized by the city's Committee of Safety at Work, Vice Mayor Lu Hao said the establishment of long-term mechanisms depends on detailed and basic measures.
The new regulations stipulate that:
During "golden week" holidays, important festivals and large scale activities, emergency measures must be taken should the density of people surpass one person per square meter indoors or one per 0.75 square meters in the open air. Measures should include the closure of parks and exhibitions, and the evacuation of tourists. Specific staff should be designated to monitor crowd densities.
Evacuation routes in department stores should lead directly to exits and should not be narrower than 2.4 meters. Supermarkets with an area of more than 3,000 square meters should have evacuation lanes at both ends of their cash registers, and they should be clearly signed and not narrower than 1.5 meters.
The ratio of shopping carts to the area of evacuation lanes should be kept below 10 carts per 100 square meters.
All restaurants must be equipped with an audio warning system. In case of emergency, the alarm should be audible in every corner of the restaurant, including enclosed dining rooms.
Restaurants with more than 10 enclosed rooms should have warning devices and a map of emergency exits in each room. There should be no less than two exits in areas where food and beverages are served.
Cinemas should ensure the orderly entry of audiences and assign each person a seat. There should be more than 20 minutes between shows. Emergency lighting should be installed near stairs, evacuation lanes and exits, and should be attached to walls no higher than one meter. Rechargeable emergency lights should be powerful and able to last for at least 20 minutes in case of power failure.
Profitable public venues such as theaters must pass fire security checks before opening. Their stages, screens and curtains should be fireproof and, during business hours, designated staff should make fire safety checks throughout the venue once every two hours.
The halls and compartments of karaoke lounges are often so loud that alarms could be missed by customers. Proprietors must install special alarm systems that replace karaoke audio and visual output instead of competing with them.
Internet cafes and other computer-based venues should guarantee that exits and evacuation lanes are unobstructed. Exits must not be locked, blocked or installed with enclosed or barred windows. Electric cables should be laid in strict accordance with national regulations, whilst smoking and non-electric lighting are prohibited. "No smoking" signs should be clearly displayed.
Before coming into effect on March 24, the regulations will be treated as guidelines. Once they are in force, amendments may be added.
(China.org.cn by Wind Gu, January 26, 2005)