What You Need to Know about Your Hotel in an Emergency

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emergency-exitWhen traveling, the last thing anyone wants to think about is an emergency occurring during their trip. However, things do happen. Hotels are required to have emergency plans in place and express those plans to guests who stay with them. Most people don't think about asking about these procedures ahead of time and panic when faced with an emergency. Upon checking in, there are a few things you need to check on just in case an emergency occurs and you have to protect yourself and your family or friends.

Physical location of the fire exits - Even though each room has a marked map posted or guests are given a map when they check in with all the fire exits clearly marked, many guests never actually physically check to see where the exits are located. Many people have trouble finding their rooms for the first evening or so; imagine trying to find an emergency exit when you only have a vague idea of where it is in relation to your room. Additionally, consider that the hallway could be filled with smoke, lacking light, and in a state of utter confusion as people try to find their way out.

After putting your bags in your room, it is a good idea to walk the hallway and find the emergency stairwell(s) and exit(s). You may want to consider walking the path a few times to be sure you are able to quickly get from your room to the emergency exit via the fastest route possible. If you are travelling with family or friends, at least one adult, more if possible, needs to find way to the fire exits and be able to lead the rest of the family to safety. You also will need to know where you are to go after leaving the building and where you will be accommodated until the emergency is over.

Protocol for weather-related emergencies - No matter where you are staying, there is always the possibility of weather-related emergencies. When planning your trip, check the weather in your destination location and the forecast if possible for the time you will be in that location. At check in, ask the front desk staff where guests are supposed to go in case of a weather emergency. If you get any answer except the name and place of the safe room for guests, ask to speak to the manager as soon as possible. This information should be known by every member of the hotel's staff and should be shared with each guest, particularly during severe weather season. Once you are made aware of the safe room, find it and determine the path from the main lobby to the room. During a severe weather event, the staff will be directing guests to the safe room; however, if you already know where it is, you will be ahead of the game.

Emergency announcement and evacuation procedures – There should be a procedure in place for emergency announcements so ask at the front desk during check-in. Some people feel as if they are asking too many questions or being overly concerned about safety issues; but, usually, it's better to be safe than sorry. While the hotel will have emergency announcement procedures in place, you should also make yourself aware of local television news sources. There are a variety of reasons that the hotel would need to get information to guests quickly so it is important to know how this information is to be disseminated. It is also important to know about evacuation procedures and the location where guests are to be sent after they are evacuated.

While the chances of this happening are slim, it is much better to know what will happen than be caught up in panic when the situation occurs. Remember, any time there is an emergency it is very common for people to panic. However, if you are prepared and know what is going to happen procedurally, you will be better able to stay calm and get yourself and your family or friends to safety. Stay with your family or friends so that you are able to account for each other at the evacuation place.

Uniforms/ID for staff - Every member of the hotel staff should be required to wear a uniform and/or a hotel name badge. While you don't have to specifically ask about this detail, be sure to look at the employees to get an idea of what the hotel uniform is and how the name badges look. Before opening your door to anyone claiming to be hotel staff, you should check through the security peek-hole in the door. You should be able to see they are wearing a uniform or name badge of the hotel.

If you have any doubt about whether they are supposed to be there or not, call the front desk and ask, giving them the reason you were given by the person at the door. Any maintenance or housekeeping issues would be registered at the front desk. If the front desk doesn't know anything about the person at your door, do not open it. Explain the situation to the front desk and have them send security.

Medical emergencies - If you have a medical emergency, you should contact the front desk immediately. They will contact emergency services for you. You can ask for someone from the hotel staff to come to your room and stay with you until the paramedics arrive. When traveling, you should have copies of your insurance information and any urgent medical information you might need in an emergency, such as allergies or a list of medication you take regularly. Hotel staff members are generally able to give basic first aid, CPR, and support until paramedics arrive.

If you are feeling extremely ill or if you are having trouble breathing, contact the front desk immediately for help. Do not be afraid of being a bother - they would rather have it be nothing and you leave healthy than for you to be in serious health trouble and no one know.

Emergencies and accidents happen all the time, even on vacation or travel that may take you out of your home city. Hotels are prepared for most emergencies as they are committed to keeping their guests safe and making their trips as uneventful as possible. If you have any questions about specifics relating to your hotel, don't be shy. Talk to the front desk staff and/or a member of the management team. They are all there to help make your stay safe, pleasant, and as stress-free as possible.

Lauren Hamilton is a professional blogger who enjoys providing consumers with travel advice. She writes for SouthAmerica.travel, a leading South America Travel company specializing in 4* & 5* Columbia Tours.

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