At GMS, we strive to provide information worthy to share with your customers. This issue we mark National Fire Prevention Month with valuable tips to prevent residential and commercial fires. Sponsored by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the national observance began in response to several fires which broke out within days of each other, including The Great Chicago Fire of October 8, 1871, which killed more than 250 people and left 100,000 people homeless. On that same day, several fires started along Lake Michigan’s coast in which an estimated 2,400 people had lost their lives.
Some Startling Residential Fire Facts
Nobody wants to consider that fire could impact their lives. This contributes to many incidents of failure to plan properly for the possibility. Incredibly, much of the loss, injury, and deaths caused by fire could be avoided with the right plans and tools in place.
- 3 of every 5 home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no working smoke alarms.
- Less than 50% of residents have an escape plan.
- Fires kill more than 4,000 Americans each year and approximately injure 20,000 more.
- U.S. fire departments respond to nearly 2 million fires each year, with three-quarters of them occurring in residences.
- Have functioning fire and CO alarms installed in the home
- Check the batteries in your alarms monthly
- Have alarm systems professionally monitored
- Never overload electrical circuits or extension cords
- Unplug appliances when not in use
- Use portable heating in a space free of furniture, clothing and other items
- Clean dryer vents regularly
- Store flammable chemicals safely away from sources of ignition
- Ensure that all heat using appliances are well-cleared of flammable materials
- Never leave food cooking unattended
- Have and practice an escape plan
- Make sure all exits can be opened and are accessible
Tips to Improve Fire Safety in the Workplace:
Perform a Facility Assessment
Thoroughly assess every aspect of your facility from structure and usage to processes. The particulars you uncover will help determine your fire and security needs. For example, do you have a commercial kitchen? Do you use combustible materials or have a data center? What type of building occupants are present? Is your facility in use around the clock? What is the flow of traffic? Are exits easily accessible?
Talk to a Fire and Life Safety Professional
Commercial buildings must comply with many local and national fire safety codes such as having proper fire systems in place. Having those systems is not enough. It is important to have a security system professional look at your facility and make recommendations.
Provide Proper Training
Ensure that your employees are trained to use fire and life safety systems and how to respond in an emergency.
Have a Prepared Evacuation Plan
In addition to using posted building maps and lighted exit signs, prepare and regularly practice an emergency evacuation plan with your building/business occupants. The more a plan is practiced, the more quickly and safely it can be executed in an emergency.
Practice good workplace housekeeping. Clutter contributes to fires by providing fuel and by preventing access to exits and emergency equipment.
Use Designated Smoking Areas
Smoke only in designated areas, and extinguish smoking materials safely. Never smoke in storerooms or chemical storage areas.
Have Fire Extinguishers
Maintaining the appropriate type and number of fire extinguishers and learn how to properly use a fire extinguisher.
Remove Electrical Hazards
Many fires start in faulty wiring and malfunctioning electrical equipment.
Practice Chemical Safety
Use and store chemicals safely. Read the label and the Material Safety Data Sheet to determine flammability and other fire hazards. Provide adequate ventilation when using and storing these substances.
The simple truth is that fire emergencies and disasters can strike anyone, anytime, anywhere. It is up to each of us to do all we can to prevent them, and be prepared to act should one occur.