Fire!

Everyone knows that when you check into a hotel the first thing you do is carefully examine the back of your door and note the closest fire exits.

Everyone knows that when you check into a hotel the first thing you do is carefully examine the back of your door and note the closest fire exits.

After that you postpone unpacking until you have found and memorized the fire procedures.

I mean, who among you doesn’t do this?

Well sit down, because this might come as a shock. Most people don’t.

In case you’re among the ignorant masses, I have a hotel fire pop quiz for you.

Upon hearing the alarm, how do you check for fire?

Answer: place the palm of your hand on the door to see if it’s hot.

What do you do if it is? Answer: fill tub with water, towels and bedding, then stuff the wet towels along the bottom of the door, wrap yourself in the wet bedding and indicate you need help by screaming out the window. Loudly.

That last part you might figure out on your own.

If the door isn’t hot, grab your room key and exit quickly by way of the stairs. You know where the stairs are because, of course, that’s the first thing you made note of upon checking in, right?

Not the view out the window, not the stash of free lotions and shampoos, not the softness of the mattress or the size of the TV. Obviously you do not pause to grab your camera.

I don’t care how expensive it is or what kind of photo ops there might be or take time to get properly dressed.

Your life is at stake here. Get up and get out.

Apparently only three people out of 257 are aware of the proper procedures.

Where do I get these figures? From doing an impromptu survey on the streets of Toronto at 1 a.m.

In the strobe lighting of the fire trucks I counted one man in his 40s wearing a pair of boxer shorts, a T-shirt and clutching his room key. He didn’t even have shoes. I approved.

Clearly this man had read the hotel fire procedure policies.

As impressed with the man as I was, I have to say that the part in the procedure manual that tells you to grab your room key has always irritated me. And not because it’s more of a card and less of a key.

The fact that they tell you to leave all valuables behind in the name of haste, but then ask you to take time to find your key while flames lick the paint off the walls strikes me as being a tad hypocritical.

It has nothing to do with your personal safety.

It’s all about saving themselves the headache of a false alarm and having to sort out who goes with which room when no one has any ID on them and a third of their guests due to the recent excitement  can no longer remember which floor they were on, let alone which room.

But I digress.

The second hotel occupant, who had clearly taken the time to read up on the fire procedures, was a young man wearing nothing but his extremely brief briefs.

From the look on his face he was living that dream where you show up half naked in your high school hallway.

I wanted to commend him on his ability to follow instructions, but wedged as he was between the wall of the hotel and a slim potted palm, I decided it might be kinder to let him carry on with the illusion that no one could see him.

The women were not only fully dressed, they even had full makeup and freshly combed hair.

The only exception was the third and final person in the crowd aware of proper fire procedures, an extremely intelligent-looking woman with wild hair, wearing nothing but her pyjamas.

Unfortunately, her husband was less intelligent.

I say this because not only was he fully dressed, he had taken up valuable exit time grabbing his camera, which he was now amusing himself with by taking pictures of his wife on the street in her pyjamas.

I still haven’t forgiven him.

Shannon McKinnon will be away until the week of Oct. 10. In the meantime we hope you enjoy these previously published columns.