Denmark: Researchers learn more about evacuating intoxicated youth

When the wine is in, the wit is out, the saying goes. But how do intoxicated young people act when they need to be evacuated in case of an emergency—for instance during a fire? This is something researchers at DTU Civil Engineering have set out to study in a large-scale experiment in collaboration with TrygFonden.

“How many beers can you drink in one hour? Two, four, or six beers?” This is not a question DTU students are asked every day—especially not when it relates to drinking free beer in the name of science.

This was nevertheless the case when the two MSc students Marlene Westmose and Anne Madsen from DTU Civil Engineering recently conducted an experiment among 35 volunteer DTU students, which was intended to clarify how intoxicated young people act and react in dangerous situations— for instance in the event of fire.

This was their second experiment, which also forms part of their MSc thesis, and the two students were looking for answers to questions such as: Do we react quickly and logically in dangerous situations after drinking alcohol, and to what extent does alcohol affect our walking pace, reaction time, and sense of balance?

The scenario was a nightclub in the Oticon Hall, which was full of happy, intoxicated young people. The participants were all volunteer students, and the combination of loud music, beer, and drinking songs helped create a realistic environment and a good atmosphere.

The experiment was carried out in collaboration with supervisor Janne Gress Sørensen, engineer at Ramboll, and Associate Professor Anne Dederichs, Master of Fire Safety at DTU Civil Engineering.


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