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Motel fire safety

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February 24, 2004
Albany -- One of the most important times to think about fire safety is when you are checking into a hotel. Spending the night away in an unfamiliar place can turn deadly, if a fire breaks out.

January 25th a fire at the Comfort Inn in Greenville, South Carolina killed six people, and a dozen others were injured escaping the blaze. The fire started at 4 AM on the third floor.

An investigation found that most of the victims could not escape because they were lost. Albany Fire Department Assistant Chief James Carswell said "The hallway was full of smoke, and they did not remember where the exits were and they got lost. They did not take their key with them, so they could not get back into the room, so they were trapped there."

Firefighters warn that you should always study your room's location when checking into a hotel, to make sure you can get out in case of fire. From each room's door you must be able to see two Exit signs. Carswell said "Even though this one is close, the fire could be between you and that exit, so you need to know where the secondary exit is, so you can get away from the fire."

Look for smoke alarms and emergency lights in hallways. They could be lifesavers, because smoke will fill a hotel hallway quickly.

Always keep your room key with you in case of fire. If your escape is blocked, your room may be the safest place to seek refuge. Carswell said "Shut your door, put a towel under the threshold to keep smoke from coming in. Open the window if it's there, and hang a colored cloth to alert firefighters you are there. Call the front desk and let them know."

When you check into a hotel, make sure their fire preparation is evident. Ask questions. If you have any doubts, firefighters say you should find another place to stay.

Carswell said "It could be a matter of life or death, and it could be your own."

 There are on average four thousand fire deaths a year in the United States.

posted at 1:41 PM by jimw@walb.com