Hotel Fire Safety

When travelling in the third world and developing countries, there are many safety tips to keep in mind. One that is of particular importance is making sure the hotel you book is up to proper safety standards, this means, among other things, ensuring that the hotel is up to proper fire safety standards and has an emergency procedure in place. Hotels may claim to be certified to the highest safety standards, but it's important to not blindly trust the hotel or that they coordinate with the safety practices of the country. Furthermore, different countries have different fire safety codes, and a hotel could be up to local code, but still not be considered safe by many Western standards. Also, what can often happen is that a country will institute fire safety codes only after a major fire, instead of legislating them in the first place, which would of course be much safer.

Residents being evacuated by Bangkok's Fire Department[/caption] Take Thailand for example, the Grand Park Avenue Hotel in Bangkok suffered a major fire in 2012 that broke out on the 5th floor of the building. Local firefighters responded and took about a half hour to douse the flames, but unfortunately they were too late to save two foreigners who perished as a result of the fire. One of the deceased actually tried to jump from her 5th floor window into the pool, but unfortunately the result was fatal. To do this safely you would require proper high-rise survival gear. Thailand actually has a law that all buildings built after 1992 are required to have sprinkler systems in place, but this is not necessarily enforced. Trip Advisor users commented in this thread that sometimes the sprinkler system is just for show and that in the 2012 fire, there were no sprinklers and no emergency lighting. One person who claimed to be there during the fire described the scene: "I was at the scene and just returned from there...Lots of smoke and hotel in darkness. Couldn't find anyone who could speak enough English to give me info on injured." We can see from Thailand, that countries safety standards can vary greatly. One unique case is South Korea, where tourists have been fascinated to learn that many hotel rooms come with their very own rappel line. This device is called "Simplicity Descending Life Line" and functions much like SkySaver but looks incredibly difficult to use. From the picture it seems that the device is worn like a belt, but this could prove difficult in an emergency and there's no guarantee it won't slip off. Furthermore, there are no English instructions, and using it improperly can be very dangerous. If you jump out a window and trust a foreign device, you definitely want to make sure it's ceritfied and safe.

[caption id=" align="alignright" width="253" class=" "] width= IDF rescue workers at the wreckage of the Taba Hilton hotel, October 8, 2004[/caption] When it comes to choosing the actual hotel, one thing to consider is to only use internationally recognized brand names. For example, look for brands like Hilton, InterContinental, Accor, etc. Because they are based in modern nations, these brands will likely have a higher standard of safety and will comply with local safety regulations (though these regulations may be insufficient). However, a danger of booking a big chain hotel is that in the past these recognizable brands have been targeted by terrorists precisely because they are a symbol of the 'West'. This was the case in Cairo in 2004 when the Hilton Taba was bombed, it happened in 2008 when the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai was attacked and recently, in January 2015 the Corinthia Hotel in Tripoli was attacked by militants associated with ISIS. A good idea then, would be to research recognized and safe hotels, but ones that aren't located in the heart of downtown and that aren't perceived as symbols of Western or American power.


  If you do book a downtown hotel, one of the biggest benefits can be the picturesque views available on higher floors. Having a room on a high-up floor can afford these views but can be risky in the event of a fire. This is especially true in a foreign country with weak fire safety standards, and evacuating from a high floor can be a dangerous process in an emergency. In the event of a fire, descending potentially smoke-filled stairs can be fatal, especially when emergency lighting is faulty. Many modern hotels in America are equipped with voice communication systems that tell you if evacuation is necessary and the safest way to go about it, but these systems may not be installed in hotels abroad. making sure the hotel you book is up to proper safety standards, this means, among other things, ensuring that the hotel is up to proper fire safety standards and has an emergency procedure in place. Hotels may claim to be certified to the highest safety standards, but it's important to not blindly trust the hotel or that they coordinate with the safety practices of the country. Furthermore, different countries have different fire safety codes, and a hotel could be up to local code, but still not be considered safe by many Western standards. Also, what can often happen is that a country will institute fire safety codes only after a major fire, instead of legislating them in the first place, which would of course be much safer. [caption id=" align="alignright" width="240"] width= If you do find yourself in a room several stories up, a good thing to do is to check the stairs and make sure they  unlock at every floor. In an emergency you don't want to find yourself stuck in the stairwell and escaping all the way to the lobby may not always be an option. Another thing that safety experts recommend is to count the number of doors from your room to the exit. If you are on the 5th floor there could be 5 doors you will see on your way down, but this depends on the way buildings are designed. The lobby may not be considered the 1st floor, and the 1st floor could simply be a lounge. This means that you might actually see 7 doors on your way out, but making sure you know that number can be crucial to a safe evacuation. Outside of counting doors, another good fire safety habit is to test the smoke detectors in your room (and hopefully your room has). If they don't work, call the front desk immediately, it could simply be an issue of replacing the batteries, but you should definitely make sure they work.


  Lastly, when travelling, there are several small lightweight items you can bring along that can come in handy in case of an making sure the hotel you book is up to proper safety standards, this means, among other things, ensuring that the hotel is up to proper fire safety standards and has an emergency procedure in place. Hotels may claim to be certified to the highest safety standards, but it's important to not blindly trust the hotel or that they coordinate with the safety practices of the country. Furthermore, different countries have different fire safety codes, and a hotel could be up to local code, but still not be considered safe by many Western standards. Also, what can often happen is that a country will institute fire safety codes only after a major fire, instead of legislating them in the first place, which would of course be much safer. [caption id=" align="alignright" width="240"]Powertac X3000 flashlightemergency. Firstly, a flashlight can really be helpful in any emergency, whether it be a fire, earthquake, or just a black-out. Cheap flashlights break easily, and therefore it may be worthwhile to invest in a good flashlight such as the Powertac X3000. Powertac flashlights are rechargeable and can actually be used to charge other devices like cell phones via built-in USB ports. A really powerful tactical light produces 500 lumens of light, while the X3000 produces 3,000 lumens. Next, having a a fire-broof bag or pouch can be crucial and is a great place to store important documents such as passports, travel tickemaking sure the hotel you book is up to proper safety standards, this means, among other things, ensuring that the hotel is up to proper fire safety standards and has an emergency procedure in place. Hotels may claim to be certified to the highest safety standards, but it's important to not blindly trust the hotel or that they coordinate with the safety practices of the country. Furthermore, different countries have different fire safety codes, and a hotel could be up to local code, but still not be considered safe by many Western standards. Also, what can often happen is that a country will institute fire safety codes only after a major fire, instead of legislating them in the first place, which would of course be much safer. [caption id=" align="alignright" width="240"] width=ts, and of course, cash. A typical fire proof pouch can be found on Amazon here and run for about $50. If you don't want to walk around with all your documents all day, you can at least peace of mind knowing that they will be protected against a fire. Of course, steps should also be taken to hide or lock away the items. Lastly, a smoke hood, can be extremely helpful in navigating a smoke-filled environment and has the potential to save your life. Of the approximately 10,000 people who die each year in fires, almost 80% of them are overcome by toxic smoke. A good smoke hood should be able to resist heavy smoke and Hydrogen Cyanide for about a half hour.  They are widely available on Amazon and you can find one here.


  So no matter where you find yourself travelling and where you end up staying, remember to stay safe and plan ahead, make sure you are ready to take safety into your own hands. For more info check out www.firesafetyfoundation.org it was founded to keep students safe when studying abroad, but provides many good fire safety tips that are relevant to all travelers.