Be Wise – Fires Take Lives
Have you ever considered what you would do if you suddenly saw or smelled a fire in your office? Many workers seem to have an “it will never happen here” attitude about fires. But fire is not very selective about where it starts or what it burns.
Tragic fires can happen in large office towers as well as small businesses. By being aware of fire safety you can help prevent fires. Know the company’s safety guidelines and then review the following suggestions to help protect yourself and your co-workers:
In case of fire:
- Notify others: Are the emergency numbers posted in a visible location next to the telephone? Do you know how to describe your exact location to the fire department? Where is the nearest fire alarm? Do you know how to activate it?
- Follow the emergency plan: What is our company’s emergency plan? Where would everyone meet so your supervisor can be sure you are safely out? Who is responsible for assisting a disabled co-worker? Do you have any other duties such as closing windows and doors or checking employee washrooms?
- Find your exits: Which fire exits would you use? Can you find two fire exits— right now— from the room that you are in? Always plan two escape routes, so if one becomes blocked by fire you have an alternative exit.
- Use the stairs. Do you know that you should never use an elevator when the fire alarm sounds? Elevators can jam between floors or accidentally drop to the floor that the fire is on. When the doors open, you could be subjected to flames, hot gases and toxic smoke.
- Fight or flight: Do you know how to use a fire extinguisher? Some small fires, about the size of a wastepaper basket, can be successfully fought with a portable fire extinguisher. But if you are not sure what you are doing with the extinguisher or if the fire is spreading, get out!
While we are discussing what to do in case of a fire, we should also consider what can be done to prevent a fire:
- Look for trouble: Check frequently for worn and frayed electrical cords on your computer, printer, paper shredder, lamp and other electrical equipment. Cords which are routed across traffic areas are often damaged.
- Practice good housekeeping habits: Keep your work area clean, tidy and free from waste paper. Place all trash in proper containers. Make sure the area around electrical heaters and radiators is clear. Flammable liquids such as cleaning solvents, paints or thinners should be correctly stored in a well-ventilated area. They should be kept covered to prevent spills and the escape of flammable vapors.
- Use caution when smoking: Smoke only in designated areas, not in storage rooms and stairwells. Ensure that all your smoking materials are properly extinguished and safely placed in metal containers used only for that purpose.
- Keep the exits clear: Always make sure your emergency exits, traffic aisles, stairwells and doorways are clear of clutter. Never use them for extra storage. Keep the fire doors closed as directed.
A fire can easily start in a storage room, a trash basket or a box of old files. Practice smart fire habits.