Personal Safety at Trade Shows

Sales people face enough hazards when they are on the road. Here is one that they shouldn't have to deal with:
This photo was taken in the exhibition hall at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia. The eight-foot high drapes throughout the exhibit hall, and around its periphery, were higher than the exit lights above the exit doors.

Had there been a fire or other dangerous event, people on the show floor would have lost valuable seconds escaping from the building by their inability to know the nearest egress path.

As you travel, make the point of looking for the nearest exits whenever you enter an unfamiliar building. When I check into a hotel, for example, I walk the hall to note the exits for my floor. (It is frightening how often I find the fire safety of an egress path compromised.)

Post Script:  I shared my concerns about this with Bob Lester, Director of Engineering at the facility. Here is part of his response:

The floor plans for each show are sent to the Philadelphia Fire Department and the City of Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections for review and comments.  An official from the Fire Department’s Code Enforcement Unit also inspects the exhibit halls before a show opens.  The fire department will look for violations such as blocked exits, narrow aisles and obstructed exit signs.  We are required to make sure exit signs are present at the designated passageways through the pipe and drape and are visible from the show floor.  We currently have large exit signs mounted high on the front wall of the exhibit halls as well as additional signs in storage that can be placed in other locations when required. 

The picture you have attached from the Construct 2010 show was taken inside a lecture area on the show floor.  The raised section of curtain was located behind the stage and was not intended to be used as an entrance or exit.  The plan for egress from this space was for attendees to exit from the opening at the front of the lecture area and into the aisle.  Once into the aisle, exits were visible to the front and rear of the exhibit hall.  Having people pass through a curtain to reach an exit is discouraged since pipe and drape can become an entanglement hazard. 
His point about entanglement in drapes is one I had not considered. Yet, in a panic, people can not be expected to go to the nearest trade show aisle to look for marked exits.

Bottom Line: Practice personal safety wherever you go, and always be mindful of the nearest emergency exits.