Hotel fire safety - your steps for surviving

Fireman putting out a hotel fireAlmost without exception, each of us has traveled away from our homes and stayed in a hotel, motel, or a bed and breakfast establishment. Oftentimes we become "relaxed" while away as we fail to make ourselves aware of the dangers a fire presents especially in an unfamiliar environment. Let's take a look at some of the things you should do to minimize your risks while away from home.

Before leaving home

Even before embarking on a trip, fire fighting experts strongly suggest you research to find out if your hotel has a fire safety plan in place. Does the establishment have smoke detectors and a sprinkler system?

In addition, you should pull together and pack a personal survival kit which includes a flashlight, a portable smoke detector, and a roll of wide duct tape.


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When booking your room, stay on the ninth floor or below. There's not a firefighter who can fight a fire quickly above the ninth floor. This also applies to developing countries where fire-safety regulations and procedures aren't as strict as in the United States.

When traveling abroad you should learn the word for "fire" in the native language.

Fire safety steps when arriving at your hotel

Promptly upon check in you should ask about the hotel's evacuation plan, find out where the fire alarms are located, and check to see if there are smoke detectors and a sprinkler system in your room. If the establishment is deficient in any of these areas, strongly consider staying somewhere else.

Once you are in your room check the windows to make sure they open and close properly (if they are not the sealed type). Identify at least two ways out of the room, if available, and learn how to unlock your door in the dark. Keep your room key and flashlight by your bed and remember where they are at all times.

If a fire breaks out

Should a fire start in your room, leave immediately and bring your room key with you. Close the door and sound the fire alarm. Quickly walk to safety and do not use the elevator. Once you are on the ground floor, leave the building immediately.

If a fire begins elsewhere in the building take your key and a flashlight. Put the back of your hand against the door to see if it is hot and then check the hallway for smoke. If smoke has been detected, crawl low along the floor and exit by way of the first stairwell you see. Again, do not use the elevator.

Surviving when you can't evacuate

If upon touching the door to your room you find it to be hot or if there's a great amount of smoke in the hallway, the fire is nearby and you will need stay in your room.

Call for help, fill the bathtub with water, and cram the bottom of the door with wet towels or a throw rug. Tape the edges of the door and, if possible, hang a sheet from a window to signal for help. If your windows are sealed, attempt to smash them open with a chair or other blunt instrument. Finally, wait for the fire professionals to come to you and never attempt to jump from your room's window.

Do these preventative measures seem extreme to you?

They may seem that way if you are not a frequent traveler. Many of the fire codes we take for granted in the USA are much lower - if not at all existent - in certain other countries. Take the necessary precautions before your trip to ensure that your stay at an establishment is a safe one.

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Last updated by Matt Keegan on 20 July, 2014 in Lodging.

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