I'm sitting here trying to decide on what to write about tonight and my wife is packing for her business trip tomorrow. Then it hit me, Hotel Safety. Something everyone takes for granted. Your usually exhausted from the trip and just want to lay down and go to sleep, maybe get a shower in first. You never really hear about any problems at hotels, so most people just assume that as soon as they are in the door and standing at the front counter, that they are safe.
Some reasons you never really here about crime at hotels are that victims are usually from out of town, so unless it is an extremely violent crime, there is little chance it will make the news. Also, in the case of thefts, most people don't report it to the police, but rather to the hotel themselves, who try to handle it in a customer services manner by either reimbursing the customer or telling them that the hotel is not responsible for someone entering their room and stealing from them. Some hotels will even go to the extent of placing signs in the room stating that they are not responsible for your belongings left in the room. Yes they provide safes and safety deposit boxes, but I prefer to bring my own Safety Items and personal alarms.
In a scenario familiar to most overnight business travelers and to a lesser extent the vacation traveler. Your flight was delayed, maybe both taking off and waiting for a gate, the cab or rental car counter lines at the airport were endless and the hotel check-in was a mess. Jet lag is kicking in hard and fast. It's very late, you're tired and you have a breakfast meeting with a key client at 6:30 AM. You get your key, avoid the bellman, if your lucky enough to be at a hotel that has one, and then head to your room to collapse into bed. Stop and think for a moment. Take the next few minutes to perform these safety, security and cleanliness checks and get ready for the next day. These "how to's" will save you time the next morning, they could even save your life some day.
1. When you first enter your room prop the door open, turn on the lights, and check the closets, bathroom, under the bed and behind the drapes. Mistakes do happen and we've all heard about someone else being assigned to the same room. This happens more frequently in suites with adjoining bedrooms, where they can rent them as separate rooms as well. Or there could be a thief, or worse, a predator. In any case, don't close the door until you are sure the room is empty.
2. Check that all connecting doors, windows and sliding doors are locked. If at all possible, avoid first floor rooms with sliding doors or direct access to the outside.
3. Once you lock the door and attach the safety chain, check the diagram on the back of the door to review the nearest exits and stairwells, then mentally plan your escape route. Look out the door, up and down the hall and find the exit signs, check that they are illuminated. If the lights are out, be helpful and contact the front desk to let them know. The few seconds that it takes to review the exit information can save yours or someone else's life in the event of a fire, earthquake or other emergency. Most fire engine ladders can only reach up to the 6th floor, so it's a good idea to always request a lower floor.
4. Make sure you double lock your door and then attach the door chain. You might even bring a Portable Door Alarm with you to wake you in the event someone tries to enter unannounced. These are great items that are well worth their small investment. Use the peephole if someone that you were not expecting knocks. Do not open the door to anyone that you did not request to come to the room. Immediately call the front desk and have them send someone up to talk with the unannounced visitor.
All simple things that we really know we should do, we just think to ourselves, "It can't happen to me". You lock your doors, put your seat belt on and look both ways when we cross the street. This is no different. A few extra minutes could change your life.