According to the U.S. Fire Administration, there were 353,500 residential building fires in 2021, resulting in 11,400 injuries and over $8,855,900,000 lost.
While it's always important to discuss fire safety within the workplace, National Fire Prevention Week, in October, is the perfect time to review this information with your team and answer any questions they might have. To help kickstart the conversation, we've come up with a list of five simple safety tips you can implement at your workplace or home.
5 fire prevention tips
Maintain fire prevention systems While it might seem obvious, it's essential that your business not only understands the importance of installing working smoke alarms on every level of your building, but that you should test them every month. When choosing the right smoke alarm system, it's best to choose one that can be interconnected, so when one alarm sounds, they all sound. In addition to smoke alarms, your company should also look into installing sprinkler systems. Sprinkler systems not only protect over 99% of buildings from fire damage. They also prevent additional damage from occurring. After they are installed, you should perform routine inspections and maintenance.
Don't forget your fire extinguishers Fire extinguishers may work effectively at putting out smaller fires and preventing them from turning into larger fires, but they can't do this if they're hidden in a closet and nobody knows where they are. In order for them to be practical, put them in a location that is visible and easily accessible Let multiple people in the office know where they're located and how they're operated. Like your other fire prevention systems, they also need to be annually inspected by a qualified professional, and any old or expired extinguishers need to be replaced.
Be aware of overloaded circuits and extension cords One thing companies aren't lacking are cords. Between computers, extra monitors, phones and employee devices, outlets can become crowded as everything works to fit. With this added workload, overheating may become a major problem. When using any outlet, check the fit of the plug in the outlet to help avoid loose electrical connections. A poor connection may cause overheating and quickly spark a fire. Also avoid placing cords or wires under rugs or in high traffic areas.
Keep your space clean Not only can a crowded and cluttered space add fuel to the fire (literally), but it could become hazardous for employees trying to evacuate the building once the fire alarms go off. From being a potential trip hazard and blocking emergency exits, to creating extra flammable material that helps a fire spread, not having a clean space could end up seriously hurting someone. Don't forget your break room! Along with making sure that space is kept clean, double check that all appliances are positioned to let air circulate properly and keep them cool.
Create a fire evacuation plan While you want to make practicing fire prevention a top priority, it's crucial that you have a plan in place if the worst happens. Make sure that every member of your team is aware of the plan, that you have multiple exits depending on where they're located within the office and that you designate an outside meeting space that's a safe distance away from your building. To help make this happen, assign a trusted employee the role of safety officer to help keep the plan and all your safety efforts up to date. More importantly, make sure you practice. You never know when a fire might spark, and if there’s an emergency, everyone should know their role, what they need to do and where they need to go.