According to FEMA, there was an estimated 104,600 non-residential fires in the United States each year between 2006 and 2015. While non-residential fires are less common than fires at home, they are still extremely dangerous, especially if the proper safety precautions are neglected for minimizing damage. Finding yourself in a fire is a very real risk we all could potentially face. Fortunately, increasing your chances of surviving it is something we can all do. It takes a plan of action at the ready and to understand how to implement it.
Know Your Location
Knowing is half the battle, and when it comes to fires, you need to know what your escape route options are. Under ideal circumstances, you'd be able to simply run down the hall, take the designated fire escape, and be outside with minimal physical harm. Often, situations are far less straightforward, with countless variables factoring into the fire and surroundings. Know where all the ways out of a building are, and prioritize them based on safety and expediency.
It's also important to have firefighting equipment on hand. A handheld fire extinguisher, applied when a fire first starts and is manageably small, can be stop fires from spreading. Know where your facility’s fire safety equipment is in case you need it.
Plan Your Routes
Once you know your building's layout, you need to plan your escape routes in case of a fire. Do have more than one option, because you don't know where a fire will start or where you’ll be when you realize the danger. Know what to do in different scenarios, especially if your building has multiple levels. Do you head down the stairs, or go out the window? Is the front door blocked off, and can you escape from the back door, or do you open windows and get out that way instead? Thinking of various situations keeps you better prepared.
In addition to planning your routes, make sure you have the right gear on hand to get out safely. A rope ladder is a necessity for fire escape if you're higher than the ground floor. While it might seem like an extreme option, a face mask with air supply wouldn't go amiss. Smoke and heat both rise, and it can be difficult to breathe (and thereby get out) even if you're crawling along the floor.
Ever wonder why you had fire and tornado drills in school? If a real disaster came along, you’d understand the routine, keep your head, and know what to do. Even now, it is best to practice fire escape situations and not merely go over plans in your head and expect everything to run completely smoothly. In a real fire, stresses run high, and you must already be ready to be adaptable. To ensure personal preparedness in the event of a fire, it's important to practice getting out of your building under different scenarios.
If you have co-workers, be sure they go through drills as well. Everyone should know the procedure and what to do in the event of an emergency, and everyone needs to know the rules about what to take and what to leave behind. It's a good idea to have an emergency kit on hand with first aid supplies ready to go, along with any necessities for the elements. For example, during wintertime, grab a coat and gloves to avoid harsh outdoor elements once you make it safety outside.
Always remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. A reliable alarm system will better and earlier detect and warn building occupants of fire hazards, preventing escalated threats to personal safety. Some automated systems can even take early action and put fires out before growing out of control. Contact us for more advice on how to deal with fire and emergency preparedness in your facilities today.
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