Here’s how to protect yourself in the event of a terrorist attack on your hotel
Would you know what to do if terrorists stormed your hotel? A recent attack on the Intercontinental hotel in Kabul that claimed the lives of 22 people, including two Americans, is the latest in a growing list of high-profile, terrorist attacks designed to exact significant death tolls. From Mali to Manila, to Burkina Faso to Mumbai, guests at luxury hotels have found themselves forced to flee from heavily armed terrorists with one goal in mind – the murder of as many people as possible.
Terrorists often use devastating firepower to overpower the hotel’s security team and then proceed room by room, floor by floor, killing as many as guests as they can before heavily armed members of the police or armed forces take back control of the hotel. While terrorist attacks against hotels take place infrequently, there’s a number of steps that you can take to prepare and protect yourself during an assault.
Choose your hotel carefully.
Terrorists often attack large hotel chains as it allows them to exact a high body count and tarnish an American brand. Instead of staying with a large, American hotel, look for smaller, boutique hotels. While a smaller hotel may lack a large security team, given the size of its guest population, it presents a less enticing target for terrorists. In addition, before making a reservation, conduct a quick online search for news articles that mention your intended hotel. Pay close attention to articles that mention security lapses and crime against guests. If you uncover information regarding previous terrorist attacks, or you doubt the security of the hotel, pick another location.
Don’t linger in the lobby or hotel restaurant.
Since the goal of a terrorist is to inflict a high death toll, once checked in, avoid spending time in or around the hotel restaurant or lobby. While hotels often post security guards at the entrance points, only in isolated situations do they possess the firepower to fend off an attack. And regardless, terrorist’s attacks on hotels normally involve small teams of attackers who use surprise and violence of action to gain entry to the premises.
Secure your room while sleeping.
In order to prevent someone from kicking your room door in while asleep, in addition to locking the door and using the security bar that most hotels install, buy two portable door stops. Place one stop behind the main door in your room and the other behind the connecting doors to adjacent rooms. If you are a particularly heavy sleeper, consider purchasing a door stop with a built-in alarm that activates when the bottom of a door touches a pressure plate. Make sure to lock the windows and patio doors as well.
Hardened your defenses.
If you find yourself in your room during a terrorist attack, create a barricade using the furniture in the room. Place your mattress against the door first, then move anything that isn’t bolted to the floor behind it. In the event that a terrorist attempts to enter your room, they may fire their weapon at the door. Move away from the door and find a corner to the left or right of the main entranceway to avoid their bullets
Prepare a “bug out” bag.
The contents of an executive survival kit, also known as a “bug out bag” vary by individual, their prior experiences, the countries they visit, and what they determine will ensure their survival over a two to the three-day period. However, at a minimum, it should include food and water, a flashlight, a cellphone and the means to charge the battery, a GPS device – ideally with two-way communication capabilities, your identification documents, and a cheap watch. For more information on how to prepare a bug out bag, visit here.
Plan your escape.
As soon as you arrive at your hotel, pay close attention to the location of exits. Avoid staying in a room on the ground floor, instead ask for a room on the second, third, or fourth floor. Any higher up and you run the risk of being trapped as many fire departments in foreign countries lack ladder equipment that extends beyond the fifth floor. Once on your floor, identify the location of exits and count how many doors you pass between your room and the nearest exit. Avoid using the elevators as the hotel may lose power during the attack, or terrorists may disable them to prevent guests from leaving.
Given the size of luxury hotels, it often takes hours, sometimes days for security forces to locate and neutralize the attackers. While there’s nothing you can do to prevent terrorists from targeting your hotel, the steps noted here can buy you time, increase your defenses as you shelter in place, or support your escape.