The casualties and the injured in the recent Resorts World Manila incident included hotel guests as the lone gunman set on fire parts of the Resort leading to the suffocation of guests (including employees) as they panicked and tried to exit the building. Others also died during the ensuing stampede.
The main cause of the deaths was suffocation which reminds us how important it is to know what to do should a fire happen in the place you are staying. Here are some basic fire safety reminders:
- After checking in, know the fire exits and the shortest way to get there. I often travel alone due to work so perhaps I have always been conscious of this. Hotels and pension houses usually provide information about this within your room. Read it right after you get into your room. Check the hallway outside your room to give you an idea which direction you should head to in the event of an emergency.
- Make sure you place your important travel documents in a place where you can easily find them. Make it easy for yourself to find and grab your passports, IDs and travel tickets should you need to immediately evacuate the place.
- In the event of fire, do not hide in the bathroom. I have read of many fire incidents in houses and even in the Resorts World incident were some people chose to hide in the bathroom and perished. Some people think that because there is water in the bathroom, they can be saved from the fire or from the suffocating smoke. This is not true. The fire and smoke will still find you there.
- Cover your nose with wet cloth or towel when fleeing the fire and smoke. This is to protect yourself from suffocation, from passing out because of the smoke. You can also cover yourself with a wet blanket or towel as protection from the fire when you flee the scene.
IMPORTANT: According to the National Fire Protection Association, a global nonprofit organization: most fire deaths are not caused by burns, but by smoke inhalation. Smoke is itself made up of lethal components.
- Keep your head low or crawl when you leave your room. Smoke goes up so you have more chances being suffocated if you leave the place in a standing or upright position.
- Contact your friends or family once you are out of the building. My own take is to only call or message them once you are already safely outside. Let them know where you are and your current situation.
- If you have the number of the fire department or police, you can also initiate calling them. It is a sad possibility that some hotel personnel may not be as prepared in incidents like this and it will be for your good as well as that of the other guests and even employees, if you do your part in asking for help. Do this once you are out of the building.
As you may have noticed, some of these tips need to be done before a fire has even occurred. These will help ensure that you won’t panic once a fire does occur. Above all, remember to pray. I always do so right before I go to sleep.
If you have other fire safety tips, do share them in the comments section below.