Traveling the state, I have stayed in several well-known hotels and found a common theme at play: Inasmuch as we may rely on a particular hotel name to assure us of safety and cleanliness, there can still be many hidden dangers that are worth mentioning.
I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have walked into a hotel room only to find the smoke detector nonoperational.
In one case, at a well-known hotel in Fresno, I had three different rooms in the course of a week, each on a different floor, and none of the rooms had working smoke detectors. Maintenance had to be called each time to fix the smoke detectors.
Once, while filming a show on location in Fort Bragg, I arrived at a hotel, again with nonoperational smoke detectors. Maintenance could not hook up the devices, and so I ended up staying at a completely different hotel. The irony of the situation was that one of my scheduled interviews the following day was the local fire marshal.
Division Chief Andy Kellogg of Tracy Fire Department told me, “The state fire codes require working smoke detectors in all sleeping areas — including hotels or motels. When I personally go to a hotel, I look for two things. First is a working smoke detector, and second is an evacuation plan on the back of the door. I even like to count the number of doors from my door to the stairs. Remember, in an actual fire, you may not be able to see because of the smoke.”
Now, if you think you’re good to go and story ends here — I’m sorry to say you are mistaken. Although checking your room’s smoke detector should be the first order of business, there are still many things left for you to do before taking your shoes off and relaxing.
Here is a quick checklist you may want to incorporate into your next hotel stay:
• It's always wise to bring a few antibacterial wipes or antiseptic spray with you. Hotel light switches, lamp switches, TV knobs, remote controls, room and bathroom handles, drawer pulls and dresser doorknobs, alarm clocks and telephones are all catch areas for germs to collect. These areas often get less attention and need that extra antibacterial touch. Wipe down all the above-mentioned surfaces.
• Also, stay away from the common hotel pens in your room; they have probably been used before and may even have been in someone’s mouth.
• Hotel room floors may be vacuumed after each guest’s stay, but they are not deep cleaned. Plan to bring a pair of slippers, socks or flipflops that you can wear while walking around in the room. Dirt can linger in carpets and rub off on your feet as you walk on it. In some cases, this can discolor the bottoms of your feet.
• Don’t drink from the in-room glasses left on the vanity. According to the website TheSafetyChannel.com, glasses left behind in rooms may have not been washed properly, only rinsed out. In one case, a housekeeper wore the same gloves to clean the toilet and then the glasses.
• Remove the comforter before settling in for a good night’s sleep. Although bed sheets may be changed with each guest, comforters and blankets are not.
• Finally, always make sure you have a working smoke detector in your room and an exit plan on the back of your door.
• Anne Marie Fuller is the television host of “Helpful Hints with Anne Marie,” on Channel 26 at 7 p.m. Fridays. She is also the chairwoman for the Tracy Arts Commission and was named Mrs. California 2013 in May. Contact Anne Marie at firstname.lastname@example.org.