Handling Emergency Situations

  • FIRE


Most fires start because of carelessness of staff and guests. Newspapers, periodicals or clothes left lying too close to a fireplace, misuse of electricity by overloading, using faulty equipment, covering of lamps and heaters with damp clothes, etc. could be some common causes of a fire in the hotel.

Cleanliness is fire’s natural enemy and good housekeeping practices should be followed throughout the establishment. Here the housekeeping plays an important role in preventing fire by providing adequate and proper ashtrays, dustbins, fireproof furnishings, and proper collection and disposal of rags and rubbish. Combustible material must be stored properly as also all chemicals used. Proper equipment and periodical maintenance of these is very important to prevent dangerous failure or short circuits.

In guestrooms, maids should be instructed to keep a lookout for hazardous material left by the guest- a travel iron left on, covering of lamp shades with damp clothes left to dry, etc.

In kitchens the exhaust hoods should be cleaned regularly. In public areas, enough sand ashtrays should be located at strategic points. Fire alarms and exit signs should be connected to an emergency electrical supply.

General Causes of fire and prevention:

  • Smoking: no smoking should be allowed in restricted areas. All cigarette ends must be extinguished completely. Adequate ashtrays should be provided.
  • Electrical: regular checking and maintenance of electrical appliances. Regular checking of building wiring. Train staff not to use faulty equipment. Do not permit overloading of electrical outlets.
  • Heating equipment: use fire guards where possible. Position fire away from furnishings or inflammable material. Apply fire retardant finishes to all furnishings.
  • Storage of chemicals: all chemicals, including cleaning agents, must be stored in special stores. Inflammable liquids should be stored in dark coloured bottles away from naked light or direct light.

All hotels and boarding houses have to be covered by the Fire Prevention Act 1971, wherein all hotels providing sleeping accommodation for more than 6 persons-guest or staff- have to be covered by this Act. In case of hotels providing sleeping accommodation for less than 6 persons, but where this accommodation is above the first floor and below the ground floor, they also have to be covered by this Act. This Act makes provision for adequate means of escape and related fire precautions in places of public entertainment, recreation, instruction, etc. before a fire certificate is issued by the fire authority the following requirements must be satisfied:

  1. Means of escape- escape routes being provided and safely maintained, unobstructed routes, use of emergency lighting, clear signs to exits, etc.
  2. Fire fighting equipment- different types as required by nature of activity in location
  3. Means of giving warning of fire
  4. Staff training
  5. Fire detectors- smoke or heat
  6. Instructions to guests

The front office may be given the responsibility of monitoring fire alarms and alert systems. A good management will formulate a plan for possible fire emergencies and train staff accordingly.

The plans should include:

  • Emergency escape procedures and route assignments
  • Procedures to be followed by employees who remain to operate critical hotel operations before they evacuate
  • Procedures to account for all employees after evacuation
  • Rescue and first aid duties for those employees who are to perform them
  • The preferred means of reporting fire and other emergencies
  • Correct way of informing guests
  • Names or regular job titles of persons or departments who can be contacted for further information or explanation of duties under the plan


Accidents, illness and death are some emergencies that may affect guests and employees from time to time and it may be the business of the Housekeeping dept. and Front Office to deal with them.

  • All employees should have knowledge of first aid and in any such situation they should be levelheaded, calm and not give in to panic and confusion. It should also be stressed upon staff that there should be no loose talk or gossiping and rumor mongering with other employees or guests.
  • Nearly all hotels have a resident doctor or resident nurse (large hotels) or a doctor-on-call (small hotels) and he can be contacted when required.
  • An ambulance can also be available in an emergency.

Accidents: Accidents can occur anywhere and at any time and in a hotel, the likelihood of accidents occurring is even higher because of the amount of human traffic that moves through it. These accidents may involve guest or staff.

  • All accidents have to be dealt with quickly without panic and keeping the interests of the hotel management in mind.
  • The housekeeping department is normally responsible for dealing with First Aid and must maintain a first-aid box for dealing with such incidents.
  • It also makes sense to maintain first-aid facilities or box in areas more prone to accidents such as the kitchens and the maintenance departments.
  • The services of a (house) doctor should be available whenever required.

Procedure in case of an accident:

  1. If possible remove the accident victim from the site of accident as soon as possible to a quiet secluded place. Make him comfortable, use a stretcher in case it is needed.
  2. Preferably, take someone with you to the accident site and to help in handling the person.
  3. Call the hotel doctor if the need is felt.
  4. Handling of the accident victim should preferably be done by a trained first aider till the arrival of a doctor. Never try to move an accident victim who seems to have suffered a fracture- seeing an unnatural angle of the limbs, or if guest is in too much of pain, etc.
  5. Keep calm, but don’t take too much time to decide on any action, time lost may be important.
  6. Try to protect your establishment against any false allegations later.
  7. Making a full report when the event is recent and fresh helps here. This record needs to be maintained by management in case of any queries later on or if the guest blames the hotel later on.

Guest Illness:

  1. When a guest or staff does not feel well, the housekeeper should be informed.
  2. She may visit the guest/staff, enquiring of his welfare and seeing what needs to be done towards their treatment. It also reassures the patient.
  3. The front office should also be informed so that they too can follow up on the condition of the guest from time to time.
  4. If the hotel doctor feels that the patient should be moved to hospital the guest is advised so, and if he agrees, then he is moved to a hospital- maybe of his choice.
  5. The guest is required to pay for the hospitalization expenses.
  6. The front office must maintain a list of specialist doctors along with their phone numbers and addresses. If the guest desires, they may be contacted and the guest pays for their services. The services of the hotel doctor may not be charged for.
  7. In case of a notifiable or communicable disease, the doctor will advise removing the person to a hospital.
  8. In this case the room may have to be fumigated and thoroughly cleansed and proper clearance and authorisation will be required from the housekeeping, maintenance and the FOM before the room is released for new guests.
  9. Also, the relatives of the patient will have to be informed by front office.

Death of guest: 

  1. In case of death of a person on the premises, the lobby manager and security should immediately be informed, usually by the housekeeping.
  2. The FOM or Resident Manager and the GM must be informed. The hotel doctor would be required to confirm the death.
  3. The room’s air conditioning or central heating would be switched off and the room sealed to prevent entry of unauthorized personnel.
  4. The hotel will locate the residential address of the guest and inform his relatives, etc. a death certificate should be taken from the doctor.
  5. In all circumstances, especially doubtful circumstances, the police will need to be called for further investigations.
  6. When allowed by the doctor or police, the body will be removed.
  7. To avoid needless unpleasantness from spreading amongst the guests the body is removed through the service elevator and back-of-the- house.
  8. Staff should be instructed not to gossip needlessly with other employees or guests.
  9. An incident report should be prepared covering the details of the occurrence of death- time, room number, steps taken, etc.
  10. In case there is luggage and other belongings of the guest, these should be collected, a list prepared and the items placed in the luggage room with a note and the signature of the person performing this activity must be recorded as well. The incident report should be submitted to the management.
Amit Kumar
Amit Kumarhttps://hmhelp.in
Hii! Welcome to My digital home, I am Amit – an almost no-code generalist, helping businesses with their online presence using WordPress and other tools and simplifying some of their operations with ideas and automation. A psychology and philosophy geek by interest and a graduate in Hospitality Management. I founded hmhelp during college, which got me into WordPress. I am a highly motivated and results-oriented professional with a proven track record of success in the hospitality industry. I’m also a Digital Marketing Enthusiast with significant academic and practical experience managing digital content across multiple platforms. Skilled at SEO optimization, developing digital content for social media platforms, I offer extensive knowledge of multiple software programs, strong attention to detail, and extraordinary communication skills. If you are interested in talking about any of the topics I have mentioned on my website, you are in the right place. You can contact me or learn more about what I do. You can also connect with me on social networks.

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