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Travel Safety
On the Road Again...

LuggageIf you are getting ready to leave on a well-deserved vacation and leave your home empty for a few days, use this checklist before to minimize the risk of fire while you are away.

Before you leave home, turn off or disconnect all stoves and other electrical appliances. Unplug television sets, computers and radios – lighting storms or sudden electrical surges could cause a fire in these devices. When you return, check to make sure your smoke alarm is working.

  • If traveling to a hotel, cabin – or even a family member’s home, remember the following:
  • Pack a flashlight with fresh batteries. The flashlight can guide you through a dark, smoky hallway or be used to signal rescuers.
  • When making reservations, request rooms close to ground level and ask if the hotel/motel has smoke alarms and sprinklers.
  • Although you may only be planning a short overnight stay, take along a smoke detector. Fire codes vary, and your room may not have one.
  • Before you begin to unpack and relax, look around and pre-plan your escape in case a fire occurs. The few minutes it takes may make the difference between a safe escape and injury or death.
  • Walk down the hallway and count the number of doors to the nearest fire exit. Know exactly how to get to it (i.e., leave room, turn left to fifth door, then cross hallway.)
  • Make note of smoke barrier doors that separate long hallways into smaller compartments. When a fire alarm sounds, they will close automatically. Take this into account so you will not become confused during a fire emergency. Never consider the elevator as an emergency escape route.
  • Keep your room key in the same place, such as the stand next to the bed, so you don’t have to waste precious seconds searching for it. You may need it if your escape route becomes blocked and you must return to your room.
  • Check windows or patio doors in your room. They could be possible escape routes — especially on lower floors. If you are in a room on the third floor or higher, don’t consider jumping. Your chance of survival is slim.
  • If your smoke detector or the building fire alarm activates, grab your room keys and alert other room occupants. Roll out of bed and crawl to the door. Stay low to avoid smoke and superheated gases that may have entered your room. Feel the doorknob or higher on the door. If it feels hot, do not open it — the fire may be on the other side.
  • Being trapped in your room requires extra steps to defend yourself. There is no need to panic — many people have survived in hotel fires in their rooms. If the telephone works, make sure the fire department knows where you are. Fill the bathtub with water, wet some sheets and towels and stuff the cracks around the door to keep the smoke out.
  • If your room door does not feel hot to the touch, brace your shoulder to the door and open it slowly. If you feel that hallway conditions are safe, go out (remember your key) and close the door behind you — this will minimize smoke entering your room in case you have to return. Proceed to the first floor and leave the building. If this exit is not available, return to your room.
  • As you crawl to the fire exit and pass a room, knock on the door to be sure the occupants are aware of the fire.
  • If you see someone going the wrong way or toward the elevator, try to get them to follow you.

“In any fire situation, encourage people to stay calm — panic will only increase their chances of being injured,” says the Burnsville Fire Marshal. “Taking responsibility for your safety while away from home could be the difference between a great vacation and a tragic one.”

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