It can happen to all of us who are travelling. What do you do when you wake up in a hotel fire. When the smoke alarm goes off and you wake up from a deep sleep, what do you do? If you have not thought about this before, a hotel fire will take you by surprise. And there is a chance you will make mistakes that could easily be avoided if you read this article.
As an airline pilot I spent a lot of time in all kind of hotels around the world. And I can tell from experience it happened to me. Not a real fire, but a smoke alarm waking me up in the early morning.
I was staying in a hotel in Paris when it happened. We were using this hotel when we had simulator training. So every six months I spent two nights here. That morning when the smoke alarm went off I put on my clothes and went downstairs. There was no sign of any smoke. It appeared that a hotel guest had put a sandwich in the toaster in the breakfast area, and the toaster was positioned right underneath a smoke sensor.
So it was false alarm.
The second time when I was woken up by the sound of a smoke alarm, it was the same hotel. And you guessed it right, I turned over and went back to sleep. I assumed it was a false alarm.
When a smoke alarm warns you of a potential fire you should always take this very seriously.
Don’t act like I did. When you spent the night in a hotel and you step into your room, take a few moments to look at the map on the inside of your hotel room door.
This is the smart thing to do. Look for the nearest exit on the map before you step into the shower. It only takes a few minutes, but it can save your live.
But this is not the only thing you can do to increase your chances of survival when the hotel you are staying in is on fire.
What to do in a hotel fire?
Looking at the map for the nearest exit is the first step. Take a look at the hallway and count the doors to the nearest fire escape. What is the location of the nearest fire extinguisher? Are there any orientation marks in the hallway, like a soda machine that help you find your way when the hallway is filled with smoke.
Seldom is fire the cause of death in a hotel fire. Most victims die because of inhalation of toxic smoke. So if you try to escape and the hallway is filled with smoke, stay close to the ground on your hands and feet and crawl to the nearest exit.
You can use a wet towel as a filter over your mouth.
Every hotel in China I stayed in has a smoke mask in every hotel room I haven’t seen this in other hotels.
If you can make it to the fire escape, never use the elevator to go downstairs. Always use the stairs.
It all starts with a good preparation
- Always make sure you put your room key in the same spot when you spent the night in a hotel. If there is smoke in your hotel room you need to be able to find your room key because you need it if you have to evacuate.
- Also try to bring a flashlight with you when you travel. Most mobile phones have a flashlight built in.
- When you leave your room always close the door. A door is capable of withstanding a fire for at least 20 minutes. If the emergency exits are blocked and you have to return to your room, you have your room key with you.
- The smart thing to do in this situation is to fill your bathtub with water. Use wet towels and sheets to block the cracks and holes in the door to keep the smoke outside.
- Also fill the garbage bin with water. You can use this to cool the door and the walls when they become hot.
- When the smoke becomes so dense you can break a window and put your head outside.
- Some people always ask for a hotel room on the street side on a lower floor that can be reached by the ladder of the fire truck. So if there is a fire, they have a room on the side of the hotel where the fire truck is standing. Making it easier to escape.
Hopefully you will never have to deal with a hotel fire and you never need to use the tips from this article.
If you have any suggestions that I forget to mention here, feel free to comment and I can add it to the article.