That shrill unmistakable fire alarm sound you cannot ignore accompanied by the front desk calling to ask you to evacuate your room.
Do YOU know what to do?
We experienced this terrifying scenario on our first overseas trip on a cold February night with two young special needs. kids .
Luckily, it was a false alarm, and we got to return to our room an hour later.
What this incident DID teach me was to become a better-prepared traveler for future episodes.
Since this week, October 7-13 is Fire Prevention Week in the US, I thought it would be fitting to emphasize some basic information that could potentially save the life of a family member or your own one day.Make sure to print or bookmark this page for future reference.
- Ask questions
Don’t be ashamed to ask when your hotel was last renovated and whether it has smoke and sprinkler systems installed.
- BYO tools
To ensure our safety, we started traveling with our emergency bag that includes flashlights, whistle, emergency blankets, N-95 masks and battery operated carbon monoxide/smoke detector.
- Social story
Teach your child to listen to adult instructions and leave a hotel room during a fire.
Make sure they know not go back for their personal belongings (even if it is their favorite toy.)
Upon checking in
Ask the staff what the local fire department and police phone numbers are since they differ from country to country.
Furthermore, ask them what their alarm sounds like if your child is noise sensitive.
Let them know of any disabilities you or a family may have that might prevent you from evacuating the hotel promptly.
Some hotels provide special door signs to mark the doors of those who may require help in an emergency, or you can make your own.
- Evacuation Plan
Study the evacuation plan posted on the back of your door. Then take your family to see the nearest exit/stairs and count the number of doors passed on the way as a visual aid for your autistic child to memorize. Check that the exit door is unlocked and ready to be used( you should report any locked emergency exits to the front desk)
If you notice your room door does not have an evacuation plan card posted on it – call the front desk and ask for one immediately.
- Proof your room
Check the hotel room (especially behind desks and beds) before unpacking, for open sockets, loose wires or extension cords plugged into each other that can present a fire hazard. If you find any, call the front desk and ask for the maintenance staff to fix the situation.
Furthermore, ask housekeeping to remove any candles, space heaters and torchiere-style halogen lamps that can be toppled by your child while playing and start a fire.
While staying at the hotel
Remind your kid daily where the exit is by pointing it out.
- Eliminate fire hazards
Avoid recharging your electronics at night since overheated batteries, extension cords and overloaded power strips can present a fire danger.
- Prepare for emergencies by placing your emergency bag as well as the hotel key ( to re-enter the room if your exit is blocked by the fire) on your nightstand for easy grabbing.
- Since some emergencies happen at night when temperatures might be lower, keep your jackets handy by the door.
During an actual fire
- When you can leave your room- Call, Check, Crawl
Call the front desk to get information on the fire location.
Close off A/C and heating systems to prevent smoke from getting into your room.
Check your entrance door with your hand to test its temperature. If the door is cold to the touch, kneel to ground level, open the door slowly, but be ready to close it fast if you see flames or smoke nearby.
If you don’t see anything of significance; start crawling towards the nearest exit.
When you are stuck in the room- Shut, Stuff, Signal
To minimize the smoke from coming in the room; you should close the air conditioning and heating systems(including vents) off.
Stuff the gap between the entrance door and the floor by placing wet towels at the entrance door.
To facilitate emergency rescuers in finding you; call the local fire department and front desk as well as stand close by the room window to signal your location with a flashlight or anything bright fabric you can find.
Have you ever experienced a hotel fire emergency -how did you handle it?