Ensuring Guest Safety: Evacuation Chair Solution for Hotels
Every year, approximately 960 million tourists travel for leisure, and 460 million people travel for work. These are massive numbers! In 2023, 72% of travellers said that they’d prefer to stay in a hotel compared to other accommodation options, like B&Bs, apartments and home shares, for their upcoming vacation.
It makes sense: the price is comparable, and you know exactly what you’re getting. Plus, there’s a level of accountability should any problems arise. All in, the traditional hotel is a fantastic option if you want a stress-free vacation.
With the COVID travel slump somewhat behind us, and with a high population of holidaymakers opting for hotel accommodations, it’s wise for hotel owners and managers to take a serious and critical look at their evacuation plans. This subject should always be top of mind and taken seriously, even if your occupation rate is consistently low or you run a boutique hotel that houses 20 visitors at maximum capacity. The bottom line is that guest and employee safety are paramount no matter what.
Here, we’re going to break down the importance of high-quality evacuation chairs in hotels and resorts and how and why they can elevate your emergency evacuation planning. They’ll help you ensure your accommodations are ready and equipped to assist all guests for many successful years to come.
But first, let’s consider the types of emergencies that a hotel might experience, which may result in an evacuation response.
Evacuations in Hotels
Cases where building evacuations might be warranted include a fire, a natural disaster (like an earthquake or flood), a gas leak, or a human threat — to name just a few potential scenarios.
These examples aren’t just ‘what ifs,’ either. Hotels and resorts do experience evacuations. Take, for example, the following real-world incidents:
Wildfires in Greece
In July 2023, wildfires raged on the Greek island of Rhodes, evacuating some 19,000 people by land and sea, primarily from 12 villages on the island — including several hotels. In some cases, hotel guests were given wet towels to protect themselves from the heat.
Arson in Florida
In the same month on the other side of the globe, a hotel was evacuated in the State of Florida following an instance of arson where a 16-year-old girl set fire to a lobby couch following a fight with her mother.
Criminal Involvement in Halifax
A hotel was evacuated in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in the spring of 2022 due to a “strong odor.” Regional fire and emergency crews responded, as did a hazmat team. Gas meters were read, and the area was ventilated. Two arrests were made as a result.
A Gas Leak in Montana
And last, a hotel in Butte, Montana, was evacuated due to a gas leak, which saw 16 people requiring hospital treatment. The leak stemmed from the heating system for the hotel pool.
As you can see, the reasons for evacuations range in cause and in extremity; however, there’s one uniting feature — all guests had to be evacuated in quick time for their own safety, and before the situation worsened.
While keeping guests and team members safe is, of course, an ethical imperative, there may also be legislation in place that forces your hand if you haven’t taken steps already.
Why Evacuation Chairs Are Vital in Hotels
In an emergency, everyone present needs to be considered, and nobody can be left behind. That’s why evacuation chairs are a necessity in every building with multiple floors.
An evacuation chair is a single user-operated device that safely holds an individual requiring assistance in place and allows for a smooth descent down staircases and stairwells in the event of an emergency.
Stair chairs are an absolute must for hotels. Here’s why.
You Cannot Predict Your Population
First, hotels usually have a wide range of different guests. While accessible rooms are likely available on ground floors, other guests are likely present whose needs may not be immediately visible (or may not have been disclosed at the time of booking). For example, these people may be:
- Those without obvious physical injuries — like those with arthritis.
- Pregnant people (when a person is pregnant, in preparation for birth, the body produces relaxin. Relaxin loosens the body’s ligaments, making the person more prone to injury due to reduced stability).
- Seniors, who may encounter difficulties descending stairs in a hurried manner and in a stressful environment.
- A person who has experienced an temporary injury pre-trip, or on their trip, and now has a cast on a foot or leg and uses a crutch for support.
Guests Are Unfamiliar with the Space
In any emergency, there’s a strong likelihood that the power shuts down (rendering elevators inoperable) and that hallways and stairwells become busy and chaotic — this is especially true in a hotel where guests aren’t familiar with their surroundings and are not versed in precise protocols for evacuation. While there’s always an emergency plan on the back of a hotel door, these likely aren’t studied too closely by overnight visitors.
For these reasons alone, an evacuation stair chair is a sensible investment for hotels, B&Bs, and resorts.
The Logistics of the Stair Chair
When it comes to where to store evacuation chairs, they should ideally be stored on each floor and closest to the most accessible and widest stairwell. As discussed above, you simply don’t know who’s staying with you on a day-to-day basis, and so having more than one chair on site is advised.
Team members should also know where stair chairs are located, where to go in an evacuation to provide help, and how to deploy them should an evacuation occur.
The Bottom Line
For a moment there, it looked like the hotel was a thing of the past as vacation goers and business travellers alike embraced the charm and convenience of apartment, room, and house-sharing.
However, there’s been an about-turn, with hotels reclaiming the number one spot of preferred accommodations. If you’re a hotel owner or manager, feel free to connect with us at Evacuscape today to learn more about our evacuation stair chairs, and how they can be of great benefit to your evacuation response plan, and to your guest and employee safety.