Cooking and smoking are the leading causes of hotel and motel fires and their resulting injuries and deaths, according to a study by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). The study examined structure fires in hotels and motels from 2009 to 2013. During this time period, an average of 3,520 such fires resulted in 120 civilian injuries and nine deaths each year.
People who cook at hotels and motels include employees, if there are dining facilities; catering companies, if there are banquet rooms; and guests. Fires that originated from a cooking source resulted in 27 percent of injuries reported, and 25 percent of deaths.
Smoking posed a disproportionate danger. Smoking was the source of 8 percent of the fires studied, but responsible for 75 percent of the deaths and 17 percent of injuries reported.
The number of hotel and motel decreased 69 percent since 1980, the year 85 people were killed in a fire at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The decrease is attributed to the improved regulations, such as broader use of sprinkler systems, as a result of the MGM tragedy.
To reduce your risk when staying at a hotel or motel, the NFPA has prepared the following tips:
Check Things Out Before You Check In
Choose a hotels or motels that have smoke alarms and fire sprinkler systems.
Ask the front desk what the fire alarm sounds like, upon check-in.
Review the escape plan posted in your room.
Locate the exits make sure they are unlocked and note the number of doors between your room and the exit.
Keep your room key by your bed and take it with you if there is a fire.
In the Event of a Fire
If the alarm sounds, leave right away, take your room key and close all doors behind you.
Use the stairs, not the elevators
If there is smoke, get low and go under the smoke to your exit.
If You Are Trapped
Shut off fans and air conditioners.
Stuff wet towels in the crack around the doors.
Call the fire department and let them know your location.
Wait at the window and signal with a flashlight or light-colored cloth.