myasthenia gravis safety issues in hotel rooms

Compromised Mobility and Hotel Emergency Evacuation

When we’re traveling, we often stay in a hotel. Since I have myasthenia gravis (MG) with limited mobility, I research everything I question. I have gained a lot of knowledge in a lot of topics, including handicap laws and regulations.

Just like the number of handicapped parking spaces required at places of business, I know hotels are required by law to provide a certain amount of handicapped rooms and other features per the American Disability Association (ADA). I’m here to tell you, there can be serious issues with many hotels for people with MG and limited mobility.1

Our extended hotel stay

A few years ago, my husband and I stayed in a hotel for an extended period of time while we were house hunting. We are retired and live on a fixed income so we looked for a nice, affordable hotel near the area we were looking at.

The hotel was very nice with a small kitchenette and handicap rooms. The bathrooms could accommodate many levels of mobility. The beds were comfortable and we had a small sofa and desk. There was an in-house laundromat and we were able to have our "furbaby" with us. These handicap features are of high importance to us since I’m in a power chair due to severe nerve damage from lumbar stenosis and MG weakness.

The fire alarm was set off multiple times

We had several occurrences where the fire alarm was set off multiple times and the hotel was evacuated. My problem was that we were not on the first floor! We were on the third or fourth floor the entire time.

Every time the alarm went off, they evacuated everyone ... everyone except for those that were not ambulatory, such as me! One time some children set off the alarm. Of course, the fire department showed up every time and investigated, finding nothing wrong. I became accustomed to the noise and learned not become so anxious. However, that wasn’t the case every time!

The fire department did not come for me

One time in particular, the alarm was set off and we could smell smoke. My husband was forced to evacuate and leave me behind. I was told to remain in my room and the fire department would evacuate me.

The fire department had not yet arrived, but we were smelling smoke even before my husband and other guests were evacuated. When the fire department arrived, still no one came for me. The longer it took, the more frightened I became, to the point of sobbing. The thought of burning alive or not being able to breathe was excruciating!

I couldn’t call my husband. He was taken away so fast, he had left his phone in the room. I couldn’t even call the front desk ... I was all alone. At least I felt so very alone! I even considered going to the stairwell and scooting down the stairs, but I had no idea where the fire was or how to get from the bottom of the stairs to outside and away from the building.

My husband finally returned to our room, though smoke was still visible in the hall. He told me the fire was down the hall from us! Some people had caught their kitchenette on fire while cooking.

Get a room on the first floor

My take-away from this experience is? I hope to never be placed above the first floor again and I encourage anyone with mobility issues to try and get a room on the first floor.

In my opinion, there should be NO handicap rooms above the first floor for several reasons, one of which I experienced. All handicap rooms should be on the ground floor. A huge, famous hotel not far from us has every handicap room on the ground floor, so it can be done. My experience was absolutely terrifying, and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone!

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