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Fire Safety

Travelers should not assume that fire safety standards will be equal to those in the United States, even when traveling to highly developed countries. In the United States, it is standard regulation for most dormitories, hotels and other accommodations to have working fire-detection systems (e.g., smoke detectors, fire alarms), fire prevention systems (e.g., extinguishers, sprinklers) and marked fire evacuation plans. These may or may not be present abroad, and the first day in each accommodation, travelers should:

  • Note if the accommodation has functioning fire detection (alarms) and prevention (extinguishers) systems. Do not assume they will function properly.
  • Look for posted evacuation signs or plans and review.
  • Know the local version of 911 for both fire and police (they could be different.)
  • Locate the two nearest exits from their room.
  • Count the number of doors between their room and the exits.
  • If above the ground floor, know where the stairwell is. If you are above the seventh floor in a high-rise property, be aware that fire truck ladders cannot normally reach above the seventh floor, and be prepared to move lower.
  • Know if there are any impediments to their exit (e.g., security bars on windows and doors.)

In the event of a fire, students should use protocol adapted from the U.S. Fire Administration:

  • If the fire is in your room, get out quickly. Close the door, sound an alarm and notify accommodation staff and fire officials.
  • Always use a stairwell, never an elevator.
  • If the fire is not in your room, leave if it is safe to do so. To check the hallway for fire, touch the door with the back of your hand to test the temperature. If the door is cool, get low to the floor, brace your shoulder against the door and open it slowly. Be ready to close it quickly if there are flames on the other side. Crawl low in the smoke to the nearest exit; the freshest air is near the floor.
  • If your room door is hot, do not open it. Instead, seal the door with wet towels or sheets. Turn off the fan, heater and air conditioner. Call the fire department to give your location. Signal from your window.
  • Be sure to take your room key with you in case fire blocks your escape and you need to re-enter your room.
  • In order to prevent a fire from starting in their room, travelers should avoid smoking inside their accommodations and avoid leaving small personal electronics (e.g., hairdryers, straighteners) plugged in when not in use.