October 8-14 is National Fire Prevention Awareness week. That makes this a good time for you to prepare your workplace and your employees for the unexpected. It’s important to plan ahead in order to protect your business, customers and employees with a well-thought-out emergency action plan.
Start by sharing these safety tips with your employees:
- No smoking in the building. Properly extinguish cigarettes when outside.
- Do not have an open flame around any type of chemical, paint, solvent or flammable.
- Make sure all torches are extinguished when not in use.
- Do not put any type of hot object in trash cans.
- Do not perform welding or cutting around combustible material without an approved Hot Work Permit.
- Have a fire extinguisher in near proximity when performing welding or other hot work operation.
- Flammable liquids must be stored in approved flammable liquid storage cabinets.
- All oily and solvent-covered rages must be kept in an approved fire resistant covered container until they are removed from the worksite or building.
- Only approved containers and portable tanks will be used for the storage and handling or flammable and combustible liquids.
Did You Know?..
(According to NFPA)
On average, U.S. fire departments responded to:
- A fire every 23 seconds
- A structure fire every 63 seconds
- A home fire every 86 seconds
- An outside or unclassified fire every 52 seconds
- A highway vehicle fire every 181 seconds
On average, fire claims nine lives every day.
Fighting a fire
In most situations, fire-fighting should be left up to the professionals. In the rare occurrence when an employee uses a fire extinguisher, follow these best practices:
- Be certain that you will not endanger yourself or others when attempting to put out a fire.
- Do not back yourself into a corner. Always leave an exit to your back in case the fire grows out of control.
- Never fight a fire if you don't know what is burning. Even if you have an ABC extinguisher, there may be something in the fire that is going to explode or produce highly toxic smoke.
- Never fight a fire if the fire is spreading rapidly. If the fire is already spreading quickly, evacuate the building, closing doors and windows behind you.
- Never fight a fire that is producing large amounts of smoke.
- Never fight a fire if your instincts tell you not to. If you are uncomfortable with the situation, let the fire department do its job.
- When using a fire extinguisher, follow the P.A.S.S. method:
- PULL the pin at the top of the that keeps the handle from being accidentally pressed.
- AIM the nozzle toward the base of the fire. Stand at least 8 feet away from the fire.
- SQUEEZE the handle to discharge the extinguisher. If you release the handle, the discharge will stop.
- SWEEP the nozzle back and forth at the base of the fire. After the fire appears to be out, watch it carefully since it may re-ignite!
Evacuation procedures and drills
Practicing for emergencies is essential. Making sure employees know what to do before an emergency occurs helps ensure a successful evacuation.
Before a drill occurs:
- Identify key employees to assume command of the drill and post-drill activities
- Develop a plan for evacuation and instruct employees on where to go
- Prepare to document the drill. >> Use MMA’s Emergency Evacuation Evaluation Form
During the drill:
- Identify gaps or weaknesses in emergency procedures
- Note notification and communication system problems
- Look for opportunities for response speed and coordination improvements
- Identify problems with roles and responsibilities
After each drill:
- Evaluate the results using MMA’s Emergency Evacuation Evaluation Form
- Ask employees for feedback on opportunities for improvement
- Develop an improvement plan with detailed goals
- Assign tasks with clear, specific deadlines
For more information on Fire Prevention Awareness, visit the National Fire Protection Association website at www.nfpa.org. If you have specific questions about your fire safety prevention efforts or evacuations plans, contact your MMA representative.