Healthcare workers deal with more life and death situations than just about anyone. Every day they’re faced with threats to both others and themselves. That makes managing the facility they work in challenging and more often than not, they’re not without their blind spots.
Obviously the most important thing a hospital needs to do is protect the safety of its residents and one of those is through fire safety. There’s a lot going on at your local hospital and administrators and workers alike have more than enough on their hands. Therefore, staying vigilant in keeping patients safe from fires is important.
Luckily, with a little extra attention to detail and some routine safety inspections – hospitals and healthcare facilities can keep the risk of fires low and in most cases, prevent them entirely.
Here are three things hospitals can do to ensure their patients are protected and that fire safety is maintained in their facilities.
Keeping an eye on kitchens
Just like in the home – the top cause of healthcare facility fires comes from the kitchen. In fact – over half of hospital fires originate in an on-campus kitchen – whether that’s an employee kitchen or at a cafeteria/food service area of the hospital.
Make sure that safety measures are enforced – from everything to emptying grease traps on a consistent basis to making sure that flammable liquids, oils and other items are kept away from cooking appliances. Keeping your head on a swivel will go a long way as well.
Just like with any regular kitchen, employees need to make sure they’re not doing things like plugging too many appliances into one outlet, not leaving food unattended while it’s cooking and also making sure that the appropriate fire safety equipment is on hand.
Check your electrical outlets
The good thing (if you can call it that) about kitchen fires is that they usually stay in the kitchen. Electrical fires however – can spread and spread quickly. Most of the time they’re caused by overloaded circuits or faulty devices.
That’s why it’s important to make sure certain rooms aren’t overloading electrical sockets and that your entire system is inspected at least 2-3 times a year. That way, you’ll be able to identify problem spots more quickly.
In addition, hospitals have electric equipment that receives a ton of use. It’s easy for cords to get split or cracked, for plugs to erode and for wires to get trampled to the point of not being usable. Always – after every use – check cords and equipment. In fact, the smart thing is to build them into operational protocol for that particular machine.
Keeping your staff trained
Fire safety makes a lot of employees roll their eyes – but like many of these things, when and if something DOES happen, they’ll be glad they were given the knowledge of what to do. Fire safety training should happen at least once a year in every department – from knowing where to go, what to do with patients in the event of an emergency, how to exit the building, exit rooms and the like. Every healthcare facility should have an action plan in place just in case. This will ensure the safety of as many people as possible.
On a more day-to-day basis, staff should know the basics. Things like the fact that oxygen and smoking don’t mix. While smoking is prohibited at most facilities nation-wide, there are some that still allow it. This can be particularly dangerous because oxygen is actually fuel for fires and things like deep, non-tip ashtrays should be used at all times. Also if you do have staff that smoke – they should smoke as far away from the building as possible so as to avoid the overly-oxygen rich air of a healthcare facility.
And lastly – every one on staff should have at least a moderate-level understanding of how fire extinguishers work, where they are, how to use them and occasionally – how to check on them. If everyone is just a LITTLE BIT more conscious of fire safety – it can go a long ways towards things like noticing damaged or emptied extinguishers. And in the event of the worst-case scenario? They know how to operate and find the nearest fire extinguisher.
Hopefully, these tips can help your healthcare facility avoid fires and keep people safe. If you have questions or would like a free consultation as to how you can put together a better action plan, give us a call today!