Fire Safety for Healthcare Facilities

There’s a lot going on at your local hospital and administrators and workers have many responsibilities. Making sure patients and visitors are safe from fire is one of the most important ones.

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 emptying grease traps on a consistent basis to making sure that flammable liquids, oils, and other items are kept away from cooking appliances.

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 making sure 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 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 an 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. 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 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 to avoid the overly-oxygen rich air of a healthcare facility.

And lastly – everyone 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 way 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. For questions about this or any other fire safety topic, please contact Protegis Fire & Safety.