3 Tips for Hotel Emergency Planning Using Key Control

No matter how stunning the views from a resort hotel or how convenient a location, all hotels are vulnerable to fire, power outages, weather-related natural disasters, and active intruder incidents. Preparing for disasters and emergency situations is crucial for hotel security teams. Having a solid emergency and disaster recovery plan helps to minimize operational disruptions with the aim of saving lives.

Hotels have hundreds to thousands of keys on site for mechanical and storage rooms, cabinets, closets, offices, and backup access to guestrooms. All keys are at risk of being misplaced or lost, which can significantly delay response time for first responders. There are many ways key control systems help hotel personnel and first responders maximize guest safety while minimizing hotel property damage.

First Responder Access to Keys

Emergency protocol at hotels requires first responders to be able to enter any room at any time to rescue victims and attend to the injured. Key control systems place master keys into the hands of EMTs, police, and firefighters immediately.

First responders’ badges are pre-programmed for swift access to essential emergency keys secured and stored in the electronic key control cabinet. Once the badge allows access to the key control cabinet, key rings containing sets of master keys will light up and become available for release so action by the first responders can be taken instantly. With electronic key control, there’s no more searching for individuals who have master keys, saving precious time during the chaos when an emergency is unfolding.


When emergencies occur, hotel personnel, contractors, and vendors on site need to be accounted for. The key control system will show who has accessed the cabinet that day and what time keys were removed or returned. The assigned keys or key sets taken out but have not been returned to the system help to determine the footprint of individuals who have not yet been accounted for, identifying potential areas of the building for search and rescue.

The key control system’s audit trail also provides important forensics for investigation if suspicious activity, such as arson, is detected. Every key transaction is recorded, and this data provides critical information about who was in the section of the building at the time where and when the suspicious fire occurred. Investigators can use an audit trail for evidence to find potential witnesses or suspects.

Besides securing and tracking important hotel keys, first responder teams and hotel security departments benefit from using key control systems. The following three tips provide guidance on how to use key control systems at hotels for emergency and crisis management:

  • Install Key Cabinets in Convenient Locations: Place key control cabinets in convenient locations for quick access. Develop relationships with first responder teams and share the location of the key control cabinet with them ahead of emergencies. Conveniently located key control cabinets also help first responders speed up search and rescue.
  • Integrate Key Control with Access Control: During emergencies and for 24/7 hotel physical security needs, key control systems that are integrated with access control and other security systems provide data that is synced and up to date, which allows alarms and event notifications to be shared between the systems.
  • Conduct Regular Audits: When security breaches or emergencies occur, the key control system provides pertinent information because every key transaction is recorded including the date and time. This creates a timeline report that is also useful for security compliance audits.

Every second matters during the first response to natural disasters and emergencies. Key control is an important security technology tool that creates efficiencies for preparedness and rescue and recovery protocol. With key control systems and other security technology systems in place, emergency response plan drills can be rehearsed among staff members and first responders so that there is plenty of preparation ahead of a disaster or emergency, saving important time and lives.

Sponsored by Morse Watchmans.

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Marcey Tweedie, Marketing Specialist, Morse Watchmans has nearly four decades of marketing communications and writing experience. She is a six-year employee of Morse Watchmans, Inc., a global electronic key control and asset management company.