Fire safety is something that each and every one of us needs to be aware of. I recently saw an article about an 225 year old inn that had just burned down. Fortunately, no one was in the building at the time. However, what if there had been guests?
Do you have emergency lighting in all of your rooms, hallways and stairways? This can be easily accomplished by using reverse polarity plug in emergency lights. They will only turn on if they are removed or if the power goes off, as it may in the case of a fire. Someone leaving their room in the middle of the night could grab the light and use it as an additional light source as they were making their way out of the building.
The one problem that owners need to be aware of is that some housekeepers will turn off the emergency lights when they are cleaning a room. They need the outlet where the lights are plugged in. That part is fine, they just need to remember to turn the switch back on when they plug the light back in and leave the room. This problem can be avoided if you get one of the emergency lights that also has a plug outlet space available on the front (Intermatic PR3C Three-in-One Emergency Power Failure Light)
Some inns may have flashlights by the bedside table. These are handly if you have to get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. There is nothing worse than trying to find your way in a strange room when you are half asleep. The flashlights again can aid the guests as they leave their room during an emergency evacuation. Just be sure to check the batteries regularily as they will degrade over time.
What about fire extinguishers? There should be at a minimun, one on each floor of your B&B plus one in the kitchen. If you have numerous wood burning fireplaces, you may want a fire extinguisher located in each room with a fireplace. Most fire departments recommend a 5 pound bottle. These should be recharged yearly by a professional service. Check with your local fire department for your specific regulations and requirements.
How about smoke detectors for each guest room and for other main areas of your bed and breakfast. Most of these are operated by battery. It is a good practice to get into the habit of changing the batteries in your smoke detectors at the same time that you change your clocks for daylight savings time.
Do your guest rooms have an emergency exit plan posted? This can be posted on the back of the guest room door. What about how to call emergency personnel in case of a medical problem? On the information sheet, be sure to list the cross streets, address, and telephone number for the B&B. In an emergency, you don't want the guest to have to fumble around for this information.
Last, but not least, is the burning of candles or other open flame devices. This can be potentially deadly. It is easy to accidently catch a piece of fabric or paper in the open flame and have the fire spread to either furnishings or guests. The candles can accidently tip over and catch furnishings on fire or burn guests. Then there is the mess of dripping wax to deal with either on tablecloths, furnishings, or floor coverings.
For those who wish to keep the ambiance of candles there are many flameless candles that are operated by battery. Check out The Flameless Candle Shop You get the flavor without the danger.
Stay safe this holiday season.
Lynda & Howard Lerner
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