September is National Preparedness Month 2005, a nationwide effort to encourage Americans to get informed and be prepared for emergencies. The Washington, D.C.-based American Hotel & Lodging Association points out that it's an excellent time for hotels to review, practice, and refine their emergency plans.
Every lodging property should know the type of emergencies that might affect them; establish a way to communicate with employees, local authorities, guests, and others during and after a disaster; and have a tested plan in place. Here are some of the questions a good emergency plan addresses:
1. Is there a clear line of command for enacting an emergency plan?
2. Who is in charge if a designated leader is disabled or unavailable?
3. Does every employee know his or her role?
4. Has the hotel conducted drills giving staff the opportunity to rehearse various roles?
5. Have employees actually evacuated multiple flights of stairs in a practice drill?
6. What special protocol exists for evacuation of disabled staff, guests, or public from the premises?
7. In the event of a bomb threat, activation of electric equipment might "trigger" a bomb. What alternative communication systems have been established?
8. In other scenarios where building destruction interferes with wireless communication, what is the plan for communicating?
9. Is it feasible to have a "courier plan" to convey messages from command to outlying portions of the building, between buildings, or between the establishment and community response centers?
10. Is the hotel prepared if there is no way to communicate a call for assistance and staff must provide emergency response internally?