“Eighty-eight percent of all fire-related deaths are due to home fires, which spread rapidly and can leave families as little as two minutes to escape once an alarm sounds” (NFPA, 2014). Fire can be caused due to many circumstances, however here are some tips on how to create a safe work and home environment and prevent the risk of fire.
Top Tips for Fire Safety
- Check your smoke alarms regularly. Install smoke alarms on each level, in each room and sleeping areas of houses and work spaces.
- Teach staff safety precautions around fire and ensure that they were anti flammable clothing at all times, specifically in the workshop.
- Create a fire escape plan, practice with staff onsite once or twice a year and ensure that each new employee is inducted and understands fire escape routes.
Fire and safety equipment
- Smoke alarms
- Smoke alarms for people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing
- Home fire sprinklers
- Carbon monoxide alarms
Reference: NFPA, 2014
- Ensure work spaces are common areas are free of paper waste, trash and items that can easily catch and spread fire.
- Every 3-6 months visually check electrical cords and be sure to remove cords out of walking areas to ensure they are not stepped on – preventing deterioration of cords over time.
- Don’t overload your circuits.
- Turn off all appliances at the end of each day and over weekends to prevent electrical fires.
- Keep heat producing equipment away from anything that might burn. This includes copiers, coffee makers, computers, etc. (Reference: Alarms, 2014)
If there is a fire?
- Upon finding a fire, call 000 immediately.
- Have the business’ address and fire safety plan in a common area so that staff can easily access information to tell fire inspectors.
- Close doors when exiting to help limit the spread of smoke and fire throughout the building.
- Never use elevators during an evacuation, reinforce this with staff that stairs must be used in an emergency.
- Follow the escape plan and meet at a pre-determined location outside of your building and away from danger. Conduct a headcount to ensure all of your staff have evacuated.
Electrical Safety Visual Check
Along with fire safety precautions, a visual check must also be complete to ensure that appliances around the workplace are being used in a safe and secure manner. The follow areas must be checked regularly to ensure correct safety precautions have been taken.
Take care of appliance cords
Only use electrical cords that are in good condition, that are not worn or frayed and keep appliances and cords away from water. If appliance is not usable a “Do Not Use/Danger Tag” must be adhered to the cord/appliance to reinforce that it is not safe to use. When disconnecting appliances from an outlet, do so by pulling the plug, not the cord which over time will extend the life of your appliance.
Avoid piggy-back or ‘double adaptor’ connections
When using an outlet, make sure to only plug in as many connections as it allows and do not add another double adapter on top of the outlet. Power boards are the best option with inbuilt safety devices.
Install and test safety switches
A safety switch should be connected to the electrical box and tested every three months as a rule of thumb. To do this you just need to press the ‘test’ or ‘T’ button. “If the switch turns off the power, then it’s working correctly. Keep in mind though that the use of safety switches doesn’t mean you can be less careful when using electricity – they are no substitute for proper electrical maintenance and safe practices” Reference (Energy Australia, 2014).
Look out for underground power lines
When building or digging underground, make sure to call the Dial Before You Dig national referral service on 1100. It is important to be aware of the location of any underground power lines prior to commencing work onsite.
Look out for water leaks
Water leaks can cause faults in your lights or power circuits, as well as being a conductor of electricity resulting in an electrical fire, or electric shock. Water is a good conductor of electricity. If you notice a water leak on site or in the workplace, have it repaired by a licensed plumber.
In the event of electric shock
If a staff member or person onsite has received an electric shock, turn off the power at the main switch first. If the current can’t be turned off, use a non-conducting object, such as a broom, chair, rug or rubber doormat to push the person away from the source of the current. If possible, stand on something dry that doesn’t conduct electricity, such as a rubber mat or folded newspapers.
Call 000 for emergency assistance and stay with the person until help arrives. Reference (Energy Australia, 2014).