What are the very first things you should do, if you wake up in your hotel room to the smell of smoke? First, don't panic. Many people die in fires needlessly, simply because they panicked instead of thinking. There are effective actions you can take, either to escape the building or to keep yourself relatively safe until help arrives.
Before you do anything, pull some clothes on and secure your room key. If you leave the room, but escape is impossible, you need to be able to get back in and protect yourself from heat and smoke until you can be rescued.
- Assess the situation: Crawl to the door on hands and knees, so you can breathe the fresher air near the floor. Touch it with your hand—only briefly, because it may be very hot. If the door is hot, do not open it.
- Notify authorities: Instead, telephone the hotel operator, give your name and room number, and report the fire. Then, get an outside line and dial 9-1-1 to report the fire directly to authorities. This call may save your life and may be the first alert the fire department receives.
- Seal your room against entering smoke: Turn off the ventilation system. Fill the tub with cold water and soak sheets and towels in it. Use them to block the ventilation duct and the spaces under doors. Put the mattress up against the door, holding it in place with a piece of furniture. Then soak it with water, using your ice bucket as a pail. If there is any smoke already in your room, clear it with the bathroom exhaust fan.
- Protect your lungs: If it's still smoky in your room, breathe through a wet towel that covers your nose and mouth. Breathe only through your nose. Grip part of the towel with your lips and teeth. It can help remind you not to breathe through your mouth.
- Clear flammable debris from the window: Rip off the curtains and anything else that could burn. Don't break the glass. You may need to close it against smoke entering from outside. But, as long as the air outside is fresh, open the window a crack and breathe it in.
- Keep fighting until help arrives: Many people in fires have jumped to their deaths, not knowing that help was on the way. If you have to jump from the window, push out and away from the building to avoid hitting ledges on the way down.