During a power outage, should a hotel with darkened halls and stairways provide staff to help guests safely find their way with flashlights?

Expert Answers
brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Keep in mind there is often a difference between what people should do and what they are required to do by law.  In newer buildings, there are typically back up generators or battery systems that can provide emergency lighting since of course no one could use the elevators in a power outage.  I do not know what the law is in the State of Pennsylvania regarding this, but I would also bet there are some federal safety laws, an if you are thinking lawsuit, then a consultation with a lawyer might be a good idea.  A jury award probably wouldn't be successful unless someone was injured, however.

The other key issue would be whether or not the hotel had trained their staff in emergency and evacuation procedures, or if they had an emergency plan at all.

Jowana Johnson | Student

As a hotelier you have to be very smart enough and know all the techniques behind how to handle emergency situation in hotel. If I were present in such situation then I would take the lead. I would announce apology and tell guests to come down. Then immediately I would talk to engineering department and let guests know when light will come. In all big hotels there are secondary line to handle such situation. I would let power come through that. If nothing helps then through light or mobile flash light I may help few guests who need immediate assistance and give proper direction to other guests where to sit down.

dcaplinger | Student

Sadly, if a hotel were to assist a guest and the guest got injured, the hotel would be liable.  The hotel cannot be found liable for a power failure that is no fault of their own, as long as they have the appropriate emergency lighting in place that runs on a battery backup.  If the power is out longer than the battery on the emergency lighting lasts, the hotel still cannot usually be held liable.

It's very sad how litigious our society has become.  More companies have stopped offering convenience services for fear of being sued by disgruntled customers and/or employees.

Back to the case at hand, as the previous answer explained, if the facility has an emergency plan in place, and the employees follow the plan to the letter, their liability may be limited.  However, if an employee decides to do something that isn't listed as part of that procedure, and something goes wrong, the company and the employee may end up being liable for damages.