‘Tis the Season to Think About Fire Safety at Home and at Work
Each year fires occurring during the holidays injure 2,600 individuals and cause over $930 million in damage. The lights, candles, heating devices, and decorations of the holiday season can lead to an elevated fire risk.
The Fire Equipment Manufacturers’ Association (FEMA, The Life Safety Group), suggests taking the following steps to prepare a Life Safety Plan for the workplace and to decorate safely for the holidays:
–Regularly check that fire extinguishers are pressurized and operable. Report any damage, such as leaks or corrosion, to facilities management for immediate replacement.
–Thorough inspection of standpipe fire hose stations on-site is a must-do item. This equipment is easy to use on small fires after the fire department has been called and everyone is safe.
–A pre-engineered fire suppression system is mandated by NFPA standards in special hazard situations such as restaurants and industrial areas. Fire suppression systems provide fast, on-site protection at the early stage of a fire.
–Exit signage and emergency communications are important components of escape planning. Every building should have an evacuation route with visibly placed signs to indicate exit ways, and building occupants should practice escape planning regularly.
–Safety training is critical. If the company or facility cannot dedicate the time or resources to a fire safety training program, there are numerous sites online where information can be found.
In addition, here are safe holiday decorating tips provided by the U.S. Fire Administration:
–Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive kinking or wear before putting them up. Use only lighting listed by an approved testing laboratory.
–Do not overload electrical outlets or link more than three light strands, unless the directions indicate it is safe. Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet. Make sure to periodically check the wires–they should not be warm to the touch.
–Do not leave holiday lights unattended.
–All decorations should be nonflammable or flame-retardant and placed away from heat vents.
–Never put wrapping paper in a fireplace. It can throw off dangerous sparks and produce a chemical buildup in the home that could cause an explosion.
— Make sure metallic or artificial trees are flame retardant.
–Avoid using lit candles, if possible. At least make sure candles are in stable holders and place them where they cannot be easily knocked over. Never leave the house with candles burning.
–Never put lit candles on a tree and do not go near a Christmas tree with an open flame–candles, lighters, or matches.
The Fire Equipment Manufacturers’ Association is a nonprofit trade association dedicated to saving lives and protecting property through balanced fire protection education.