At least 13 fires are reported in hotels/motels annually with the majority taking place in the bedrooms, restaurant /kitchen areas.
The recent fire at the hotel in Karachi,Pakistan,has cast a spotlight on to one of the less considered risks that can be encountered whilst travelling overseas. In this brief article we explore sensible measures to adopt on arrival, what to do in the event of a fire and measures to take when you can't escape.
Travellers, often take it for granted that there will be a detailed fire plan printed behind the door of our room that highlights the escape routes to be considered in the event of an emergency. Very few hotel visitors take the time to look through this and identify the best escape route. Even fewer ask the desk what the fire alarm sounds like and where are guests expected to assemble?
As a frequent traveller, the oneness is on the individual to confirm their own safety and security arrangements, when checking into a hotel. Room selection should be above the second floor to minimise the potential for uninvited guests but no higher than the 10th floor since many countries do not possess the firefighting capability to extend ladder equipment above that height. Ask questions of the staff about the alarm system and assembly point procedures.
On arriving at the room, take the time to review the fire plan and then walk the route down to the reception area to confirm that it is both accessible (fire doors are not locked and chained), and that it takes you to where you expected.
Keep a flashlight in your footwear, close to the bed, alongside the room key. In the event of a fire, get dressed promptly, and if safe to do so, exit the room closing all the doors behind you. Use the stairs, and not the elevator. If you are in the elevator, when the electricity is turned off, there should be enough power to take you to the closest floor. If the mains electricity is off, the exit will be illuminated by the emergency lighting. If thick smoke is present, get low amd use a flashlight to illuminate your exit. Before opening any doors, take time to feel the door for any heat signature. Some hotels, also supply escape hoods which should also be incorporated into the escape plan.
If you can't escape
If you are unable to escape, shut off fans and air-conditioning units. Stuff wet towels around any entry points, call the reception and tell them of your location, if that is not possible call the emergency services directly. Wait at the windows and signal using a brightly coloured cloth or flashlight.
When you arrive at the assembly point, check through the fire marshal to ensure that you are accounted for. You may be in this position for some time and it may be worth considering the use of an alternative hotel to wait in until it is safe to return.
In summary, taking time to consider your safety may save your life in the long run.
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