How important is hotel safety? Some food for thought thanks to British Airways

I have recently attended a Flight Safety Awareness Course organised by British Airways, which also covered a session on Hotel Safety. To say it was an eye-opening experience (and a great way to spend 4 hours of my life), would be an understatement.

The session focused on air travel, for obvious reasons, but before we wrapped up a great afternoon, the team (who were lovely, by the way) wanted to bring to our attention various aspects concerning hotel safety – which made perfect sense as, if you are a frequent traveller, and fly, it is pretty likely you stay at hotels a lot.

I know what to do when there is smoke in a cabin (I hope)

I know what to do when there is smoke in a cabin (I hope)

Let’s start with the obvious.. emergency exits. Every hotel has to have on the back of the door, and clearly signed, the escape route in case of an emergency. We all know it – but the point is, what would we do with that information?

I “sometimes” look around the corridor to see where the emergency exit is – I do – but I have never done anything with it. As I now know, in case of fire/smoke, you can’t see a thing, so you won’t be able to see the lit up signs (potentially).

The BA team urged us to do the following:

– Check the map in your room and identify your escape route;

– Do the walk – go to the fire door in your floor and actually open it. A useful tip: count the number of doors between your room and the emergency exit, the same way you should count seat rows on a plane (with your hands, not looking at the numbers).

– Go down the stairs – where does the exit lead to? And more importantly, is it unlocked? Many hotels see this as a security hazard and more often than not, they are locked. (I do have a good friend who works for an oil company and she does this every time she goes into a hotel – she has to as part of her contract).

– Know the local emergency number – sadly they are not the same everywhere. Most EU countries are now moving towards 112, in the USA is 911 (but I still think 999 works in the UK) – in an emergency how will you know?

Where does this sign lead to? Find out

Where does this sign lead to? Find out

An other obvious point is knowing where to gather (whether it is a false alarm or not). Very interestingly, in the UK, in most conferences, events, and even meetings, whoever is chairing it always does a bit of “housekeeping” first and this information is always given to visitors and participants. I always thought it was strange (before I moved to the UK properly), and to be honest, I think it is vital information.

Many people will be saying “oh but it never happens” – well, actually I have had some false fire alarms in hotels, and they were great 5-star properties. All it takes is someone to smoke inside the room. How about leaving hair straighteners on and actually causing real fires? It is way more likely for something to happen in a hotel than an airplane!

So, part 2, if there is a fire and you do need to evacuate, what should you take with you?

This was a rhetorical question, and we got some of the answers right.. but not all!

– Shoes – a lot of injuries are caused by people not wearing shoes (burns, broken glass, etc). These should be by your bed and easy to put on. Heels not the best idea.

– Passport and room key – passport can be obvious (but difficult if inside the room safe) but the room key threw me. Why? Well, imagine if it is really smoky etc and staying in the room is the only real option.. how do you get back in? Duh!

– Phone – to be used as a flashlight and obviously to any necessary calls if needed/possible.

– A wet towel – something that would never cross my mind (or if impossible, a scarf). This made a lot of sense – to protect you from the smoke, and to help you breathe.

Ideally, you’d leave your shoes by your bed, with your room key and passport inside them and have your phone handy. Would I always do it? I am thinking not, but why not? It is quite simple…

Read the instructions...

Read the instructions…

To finish it off, we were asked a simple question: which floor do you prefer to stay at? Obviously I said, as high as possible, “for the views”. Wrong answer – fire ladders only get to the 4th floor (in the USA that would be the 5th floor because they are counted differently – not because ladders are larger, which could also be a possibility). That actually made me think a bit.

Obviously the point of this post is not to be alarming, in the slightest – but just to share the information I learned (which I must confess I never thought about before).

What happened to me since the course? I have started counting rows on airplanes (and have noticed other people doing so too) and I will surely start counting doors. It will take 2 minutes and could make a huge difference.

Stay safe!


Mrs. O


Disclaimer: I was a guest of British Airways on this course. Views and opinions are, as always my own. To find out more about this course, which costs £162 per person, visit BA’s website.


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View Comments (28)


  1. João

    November 8, 2014 at 6:27 pm

    Well Thats when we feel like is common sense but we Never remin of it real life.


  2. Wonderlusting

    October 26, 2013 at 5:14 am

    Really interesting and things i haven’t thought of. I’ve stayed in hundreds of hotels and thank god never once had a fire alarm go off while i was sleeping – sometimes during the day. The shoes thing is something i’ll be doing.
    Wonderlusting recently posted..Travel Tip: Fine Dining At The Tides, BarbadosMy Profile

  3. Travelingpanties

    July 2, 2013 at 5:57 pm

    Terrifying but brilliant article. I really think these are great babe. Always good to be reminded about safety. I leave for this weekend and will be sure to check out all the emergency exits and count the doors! Great article!!!
    Travelingpanties recently posted..Welcome Mrs. Goldstein: Tom Beach Hotel and La Plage Review: The Best Honeymoon Hotel in St. BarthMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      July 3, 2013 at 9:50 am

      Seriously, do!

  4. Raul (@ilivetotravel)

    June 29, 2013 at 11:07 pm

    Very interesting, Mrs. O. A lot of these I knew about or thought about but the room key – that was certainly one I hadn’t!! I learned to think about this on the aftermath of the Chile earthquake of 2010. When I returned, there were aftershocks and you never really knew if another big one would hit. I had been given info on safety at work and I learned a few good things. I always had two large bottles of water (you can last days in the debris IF you have water) and my two cell phones on my nightstand. Seemed a little silly but I’d rather feel silly than lose against the odds!!
    Raul (@ilivetotravel) recently posted..Ancient Roman Ruins That Are Alive Today in Jerash, JordanMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      June 30, 2013 at 6:03 am

      Nothing is silly!

  5. Yean Yves

    June 27, 2013 at 10:50 am

    I had many fire alarms, but never take them seriously.. I have been lucky, but I like the idea of the shoes and the keys.

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      June 27, 2013 at 2:33 pm

      I know what you mean 😉

  6. Mary Anne

    June 27, 2013 at 10:49 am

    I didnt realise emergency numbers were different in every country!

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      June 27, 2013 at 2:33 pm

      Sadly, they are!

  7. Francesco

    June 27, 2013 at 10:49 am

    Very interesting, Mrs. O!

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      June 27, 2013 at 2:33 pm

      Thank you!

  8. Therese

    June 27, 2013 at 10:48 am

    Thank you for this. It never crossed my mind to count the doors. All makes sense!

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      June 27, 2013 at 2:33 pm

      It’s a silly little thing, but can be useful!

  9. John M

    June 27, 2013 at 10:47 am

    Very interesting points and you are right, they can make a difference!

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      June 27, 2013 at 2:33 pm


  10. Erin at The World Wanderer

    June 25, 2013 at 9:38 pm

    Great advice and some things I forget to consider. I always am running safety drills for my students in school, but sometimes forget about my safety while traveling. Thanks for the great tips!
    Erin at The World Wanderer recently posted..Music Monday: Gatinha Assanhada.My Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      June 26, 2013 at 1:46 am

      Pleasure 🙂

  11. Lola DiMarco

    June 25, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    Oh you always make me think 😉 These are great tips and its true- most people (including yours truly) would never think of such easy and pretty common sense things! Like what is the version of 911 abroad? Something I’ll think to google now!
    Lola DiMarco recently posted..i spy eye candy! – Cabo San LucasMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      June 25, 2013 at 6:12 pm

      The point is that we never think. I only know the 911 from movies!

  12. Anita Mac

    June 24, 2013 at 10:28 pm

    Interesting article Mrs O. Last I checked – the emergency phone number in Australia is 000 (or triple 0 as I used to remember it!) Too bad it wasn’t the same in every country – it is a number engrained in my head since childhood!!!

    As for the hotel safety, I would never have thought about the room key, although perhaps that is intuitive. I used to always stay at the same hotel for a previous job and always got the ground floor (turns out being lazy has its safety advantages!!!! hehe) We ended up having a real fire alarm…was the talk of the town for days. While I didn’t grab my passport or purse, I did grab my key. It was more a case of being able to get back in after the excitement was over! Turns out someone butted out in the front garden, it smouldered for hours and smoked out the front desk. I imagine it was a nightmare for those who didn’t grab their room keys to be let back in to their rooms later that night! Most would not have had their id on them either. Thanks for the tips – they always stick better when there is a story behind them!
    Anita Mac recently posted..Monday Morning Series: Carousel in ParisMy Profile

    • Leonie

      June 26, 2013 at 1:19 pm

      I think my phone automatically comes up with the emergency number of the country that I am in when I am roaming. Have a look at your contacts and check for an entry called ’emergency’.

      • @mrsoaroundworld

        June 26, 2013 at 5:03 pm

        That is really good to know, Leonie! Now that you mention it, I think I know what you mean!


    June 20, 2013 at 8:45 pm

    Great article, very different, never really come across an article that talk about the safety issue.
    Very simple tips will surely follow it and pass it on too. Thanks Mrs O !

  14. Sue Sharpe

    June 20, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    Simple, logical information that the majority of us probably never even think about. Thank you for writing about it!
    Sue Sharpe recently posted..A Change Would Do You Good…..My Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      June 20, 2013 at 3:35 pm

      I was so surprised.. And felt so silly.. It’s all common sense!

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