Fire safety is among the most demanding and crucial aspects of managing healthcare facilities. It is a fact that there are no margins for error; you have to be doing everything you can to ensure that your patients are safe.
Facility managers need to be attentive to keeping their patients in a safe environment. The good news is that attention to detail and regular security checks can help reduce fires or stop them from happening altogether.
Ensuring fire safety in healthcare facilities is of paramount importance. A robust strategy involves not only adherence to safety protocols but also the integration of effective fire barrier solutions. Fire barriers act as a line of defense, containing the spread of fire and smoke, safeguarding both lives and property in the critical moments during an emergency. It is essential to opt for fire barriers that are reliable, durable, and compliant with industry regulations. If you wish to enhance the fire safety measures in your healthcare facility, you can learn more about DuraBarrier USA, where comprehensive fire barrier solutions are available.
Here are five methods to ensure the safety of your health facility:
1. Check your kitchens regularly, particularly at mealtimes. Prep Times
The most common cause of fires in hospitals is the cooking equipment.
The most recent survey conducted by the NFPA across the entire industry (from 2006 to 2010) revealed that 61% of all fires started from kitchen equipment.
Not surprisingly, a study from 2009 by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) discovered that the most active time for fires coincided with the times that kitchen workers prepared meals. The first peak began at 8 a.m., while another started around 4 p.m.
The positive side is that fires seldom went out of the kitchen, usually restricted to the appliance from which the fire started.
What’s the best method to ensure that cooking equipment is not creating fires in your health facility?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides some basic guidelines:
To avoid fires from grease, empty the grease traps in appliances regularly.
Keep flammable oils, liquids, or other things off the cooking apparatus.
The grill cleaners must be cleaned frequently to make sure that nothing could ignite can get through cracks and gaps.
Make sure all electrical cords are checked for tears or fraying.
Ensure your portable fire extinguishers (including dry chemicals extinguishers) are nearby and that your employees know how to operate them.
Regularly inspecting the kitchens, particularly during meal prep time, ensure that everyone is informed of your establishment’s fire safety program. If fires do happen, staff members must be able to respond swiftly and calmly so that the flames aren’t spread to the kitchen.
2. Always check the electrical outlets and wires
Though they happen frequently, the fires that cook tend to be restricted to one appliance or space. It’s not the same for electrical problems.
FEMA discovered that one in five fires that are not contained (fires that spread beyond their source) resulted from damaged wiring or outlets that were overloaded. The report revealed it was the case that “general substances,” which includes the insulation that covers the electrical wiring, were the primary ignition source for these fires.
If you manage a healthcare facility, you must consider its electrical configuration. The prevention of electrical fires is similar to the prevention of kitchen fires.
A lot of fire departments advise against extension cords when feasible. Instead of relying upon a cord to connect the appliance with an outlet, relocate the appliance or put the outlet in a different location. Consider an extension cord as a temporary solution, not a permanent solution.
Cords that must be utilized must be in good shape and free of flammable materials. Don’t connect a cord to windows, walls, or doorway; don’t place it under the carpet or rug.
3. Do not let Smoking and Oxygen Mix!
Smoking in medical establishments is not a good option; however, this is especially the case when you are in close proximity to oxygen-dispensing machines.
The patient tried to smoke a cigarette while receiving oxygen. The patient was treated with minor burns while the blaze was put out because of a swift intervention by an emergency response team from the fire service in town.
This is especially risky because when there is more oxygen in the air, fires may get quicker, easier to burn, and more intense than normal, according to the NFPA.
Encourage your employees to smoke cigarettes away from oxygen-generating machines. Smokers should also utilize “deep ashtrays that are non-tip” so that smoking cigarettes do not mix with oxygen-rich air.
4. Designate a Safety Coordinator and train frequently
Even if the system complies with code and is constructed safely, it doesn’t mean it will remain that way. Many of the citations stem from something other than the system itself but rather an insufficient awareness of staff. Hospital personnel must know the safety protocols, from prevention to evacuation and emergency response. One of the most important aspects is the designation of an officer for fire safety and ensuring that they receive the appropriate training and instruction to ensure the facility’s safety.
Furthermore, although the automatic extinguisher and sprinklers are essential, mixing these with portable, manual fire extinguishers is better. Your employees should be able to use these extinguishers if they’re needed. Extinguishers need to be inspected monthly to ensure they’re functioning properly. Follow these routine methods to check the condition of fire extinguishers.
Are all extinguishers located in the right location?
Are any nozzles leaky, or are they corroding, blocked, or?
Are the readings of the pressure gauge correct?
Are the instructions easy to read and understandable?
Does one of these extinguishers seem faulty on the exterior?
Are the extinguishers fully charged? (Test by lifting them and manually the weight).
5. Make an Action Plan
Hospital facility managers should develop and disseminate an emergency plan for fire safety, which outlines what to do in an emergency. All employees must stay at peace and remain in the same boat if a fire occurs. For more info click here.
We suggest RACE method, but there are other strategies to consider:
- Help any patient who is in danger.
- Make sure to activate a fire alarm in case you spot a fire or immediately respond if you notice an alarm.
- Confine fires by securing entrances and hallways
- Make sure to put out small fires, but Leave major fires to firefighters.
Facility managers should be aware of this safety policy and ensure that employees are properly trained and aware of their duties. Conduct regular fire drills and hold review sessions to ensure this plan is in your mind.
Safety in the healthcare sector requires constant monitoring and vigilance by the facility’s management team. The seemingly routine task of regularly checking cooking equipment, electric wires, electrical wiring oxygen tanks, and apparatus for extinguishing fires can be the difference between life and death.