In case of emergency: how to stay calm if there’s an emergency at your hotel
Nobody expects an emergency or disaster at their workplace, yet the simple fact is they can strike at any time. From those that occur with at least a little advance warning (such as a hurricane, tornado or flood), to those that are entirely unforeseen (including fires, explosions or- workplace violence), any emergency can be a danger to your hotel guests and coworkers, as well as yourself. And while it’s understandably tough to maintain your wits and composure when the unexpected occurs, your ability to do so could mean the difference between life and death for those around you. Fortunately, a little preparation can go far towards helping you stay calm, cool and collected in the face of disaster.
1. Learn your hotel’s emergency action plan.
Under OSHA regulations, almost all workplaces are required to have an emergency action plan and train their employees accordingly. The plan covers the designated actions the employer (in this case, the hotel) and its employees (you and your coworkers) must take to ensure safety in the event of a workplace emergency. If you have never received a copy of the plan, ask for one. You can then review and memorize your hotel’s policies and procedures in the event of the emergencies covered. A prior understanding of the steps you must take if there is a fire, tornado or active shooter incident, for example, should help you feel more in control of the situation and enable you to remain calm and function at your best.
Note: if your hotel’s emergency action plan does not include all of the following, it may be beneficial to gather additional information from management on:
- Handling emergency guest communications
- Employee order of evacuation (if, for example, some hotel staff need to complete critical functions before they evacuate the building)
- Accounting for all guests and staff after an emergency evacuation
- Who is authorized to interact with the media to minimize confusion and conflicting information
2. Keep a list of emergency contacts handy.
Whether you work the night shift or during the busiest part of the day, an emergency occurrence will likely require you to report essential details to a number of parties. Your hotel’s emergency action plan may include an outline of these. If it does not, ask your supervisor for insight. Again, quick and easy access to the phone numbers you’ll need in the event of any emergency will help you keep your cool and ability to handle your duties.
3. If all else fails, use common sense.
Maybe your hotel’s emergency action plan doesn’t cover the particular situation you’ve encountered. Or perhaps, in the stress of the moment, you can’t remember exactly what you are supposed to do. Regardless of the emergency at hand, these simple common-sense steps may be helpful:
- Assess the situation; What is the emergency? Is it localized or may it endanger the entire hotel?
- Activate the fire alarm if you need to evacuate the hotel; If your hotel has a silent alarm system for contacting security or the police, activate it if appropriate.
- Contact the authorities; Does the situation warrant a 911 call? Or do you just need to alert management (such as in the event of a power outage)? Can you safely reach a phone?
- Inform your guests; Once the situation is under control, speak calmly to hotel guests, answer what questions you can (if appropriate), and let them know what else to expect.