Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hotel Safety Guide

Hotel safely is not high on most people's list when travelling. Visiting a new destination is about fun and relaxation, and escaping the usual worries of life.  Heck, that's what vacation is all about.  However, there some things that you should not cast aside and one is using common sense safety precautions.  When it comes to staying in hotels in unfamiliar locations, it is important to exercise some precautions.  Here are some helpful hotel safety tips which can help to make your visit safe and enjoyable.

Learn Your Surroundings.  When staying at a hotel property you will likely be in an unfamiliar location.  Take time to survey your surroundings and understand what "kind" of area you are in.   Typically, there are clues to the level of safety which residents and local perceive to exist.  Check to see if the local neighborhood is well kept or if the area is rundown with gang graffiti, empty storefronts or iron bars are on store and house windows.  Are the streets well lit?  Is there a lot of loitering going on? Don't be afraid or embarrassed to ask the front desk about street safety and places which are advisable to avoid.  It is important if you will walking or jogging around the area.  Also, be aware that often a relatively safe urban area can be bordered by a more risky area  within a relatively short distance.

Parking Areas & Rear Hotel Entrance Areas.   Hotel parking areas and garages can make for great locations for opportunistic criminals.  The best deterrence is areas that are well lighted.  If there are areas that are better lit than others, choose a well lit area and preferable one which is viewable by others from the street or hotel.  When exiting and entering in your car, pay attention to your surroundings and scan the area for any suspicious persons who are hanging out or watching you.  If you feel nervous, there is usually a reason and you should act on your concern and return to a safe location until the threat is gone.  Most hotels lock their entrances later at night.  If you are returning after hours have your key card readily available for quick entry into the hotel.  This is especially important if you are using a hotel side entrance or rear entrance.  You should never permit a person who does not have their own key to enter through a side or back door entrance. Finally, if you feel uncomfortable or feel a person who in a hotel area is suspicious, you should avoid the situation and report your concern to the hotel's security staff.  

Fire and Other Emergencies.  When you go to your hotel room, take a moment to understand where you are in the hotel's premise and where the nearest fire exists are located.  Many hotels have confusing and disorienting layouts.  Find where there are two or more fire exits, because  one fire exit may be unusable and you may need to find another exit out.  Usually, fire escape and emergency information is posted on the back of the hotel door or located in a hotel reference book in your room.  You should always visually confirm where the exits are so there is no second guessing in the rare case of an emergency.  If a fire alarm sounds, prepare to evacuate, and follow the hotel’s instructions.  If there is an alarm and there are no instructions or cannot hear them, you should evacuate and proceed quickly to the emergency exits.  Do not waste valuable time trying to gather personal effects or changing your clothes.  Put on your shoes and coat if they are close by and leave immediately.  Even if you don’t smell or see smoke in a fire situation, it does not mean there is no fire present.  Before opening your hotel door check to see if it is hot to the touch.  This is an indication that fire is present and it is dangerous to open your door.  If there is a fire and you cannot evacuate your hotel room, get towels from the bathroom and wet them down and place the wet towels at the bottom of the door.  Also block any vents to prevent smoke from seeping into your room.  In all cases of emergency, the best assurance for a good outcome is remaining calm so you can think.  Most cases of serious injury or death are often the result of bad decisions made in a state of panic.  During a fire, stay close to the floor where there is less smoke.  If you are stuck and you feel you are in danger, call the local emergency number (usually 9-1-1) and request assistance.  Give the public safety officer your name, the name of the hotel, your room number and any other information that can assist fire and emergency responders in locating you.  If your hotel room phone does not work, use your cell phone, or vice versa.  If you have no communication, go to your room's exterior window and create a visible distress signal using any colorful objects or materials that are on hand and wave them back and forth to attract attention. If possible write a massage on a sheet and hang it from the window and move it back and forth.  If you are physically challenged or unfit, you should request a room near the ground floors to make your exit easier in the event of an emergency.

Bolting the Hotel Door.  When you are in your hotel room, you should always keep it locked and use the siding deadbolt bolt or chain lock for additional safety.  These extra lock bolts protect against unauthorized or forcible entry.  You should not open your hotel door to unknown persons.  If a member of the hotel staff appears and they have a known reason for being present.  If you have any questions regarding a hotel staff member’s identity or reason for knocking on your door, call the front desk before opening the door to verify their purpose.   If you experience an attempt at forcible entry, call the front desk immediately and call for assistance.  Forcefully tell your potential assailant that you have called and help is coming and to immediately leave.  Try to keep the door closed until help arrives.  However, if there is a gun present move away from the door and out of site and aim, and retreat to another room with a locked door if possible.  Try not to create opportunities for assailants by allowing them to know if you are in the room and observe your movements.  If you are on the ground floor or in a location where the inside of your hotel room can be seen by others from the outside through, keep the drapes drawn closed so that you and/or belongings cannot be viewed.

Keep Your Keys and Room Information Private.  Do not give your room number to a person you do not know, and keep your hotel room number and room key safely stored and out of the view of others who may try and steal it.

Be Careful Around Pools and Hot Tubs.  Hotel pools are great fun but many are not attended with a lifeguard and you swim at your own risk.  Do not enter a hotel pool if you cannot swim unless a person is present who is responsible for your safety and capable of a water rescue.  Also, be sure observe the water depth markings and understand where you will be over your head.  Do not leave children unattended in pool areas even if flotation devices are available.  Avoid using hot tubs if you are pregnant or have a medical condition which may be aggravated by an increase in body temperature or blood pressure.  Do not  allow young children to enter hot tubs.  They are small and their body temperature heats up much quicker.  Serious injuries and on occasions deaths have resulted.

Keep Young Children Supervised.  Do not leave young children unattended in your hotel room.  If you are on an upper level floor with an outdoor balcony or movable window, be sure to check that the windows and doors are locked and secured.  Make sure that young children cannot open them, and use the breaker bar for any sliding patio or large window.  Also, do not permit young children to play near elevators, and keep them from climbing around railings or other places where they may fall, especially for hotels with atriums and rooms looking out to the lobby floor below.  If there are games rooms or other entertainment venues for children at your hotel, keep them in your sight at all times.  Always know if there is a secondary exit through which children may leave or others may enter without your knowledge.   

Lock Your Valuables.  Don’t leave valuable s unlocked in your hotel room.  If you must bring along valuables you should use the hotel room safe.  Also, most hotels have their own house safes and you can ask to use them as well.  If are leaving valuables in the hotel safe, try to discuss your needs privately and don’t communicate the nature of the valuables in earshot of others.
About the Author.  The author is a Senior Editor for RoomRate.com.  RoomRate is a premier consumer friendly hotel booking site.  RoomRate provides hotel deals direct from hotels with no booking fees, and does not charge its own cancellation fees and penalties like many other travel web sites.  Roomrate offers great hotel deals direct from tens of thousands of hotels in the United States for all cities, including places like New York Hotels , Atlanta Hotels Miami Hotels and Boston Hotels, to name few.