It may seem surprising, but one of the most stressful and significant components of healthcare facility management is fire safety. There is absolutely no room for error as patient safety is the number one priority.
The National Fire Protection Association, or NFPA, found that between the years of 2007 to 2011, there were approximately 2,600 fires per year in nursing homes and 1,200 in hospitals. Those fires resulted in 140 injuries, three deaths, and approximately $18 million in property damage per year.
The building occupants of these facilities are mostly sick, elderly, or disabled. This means that they would require more time and assistance to make it safely out of an emergency situation. Facility managers must be constantly attentive to the factors that are keeping their patients safe.
Here are four ways that you can help with fire protection at your healthcare facility:
- Check Electrical Wires and Outlets Frequently – Did you know that one out of five non-confined fires resulted from an overloaded outlet or broken wiring? As a healthcare manager, you must not overlook the electrical aspect of your building. It is recommended that extension cords are not used in these facilities, and that cords are only used when they are in good condition.
- Monitor Kitchens – Surprisingly, the number one cause of fires in healthcare facilities is cooking equipment. A study conducted by NFPA from 2006-2010 found that 61% of fires originated from kitchen equipment in these facilities. Peak times for these fires were found to be during meal preparation times when the kitchens were full of staff members.
- NEVER Mix Oxygen and Smoking – You are probably aware of this rule. While smoking in a healthcare facility (or at all really) is not a great idea, it is a deadly idea when in close proximity to oxygen machines. Fires will ignite and burn quicker, easier, and even hotter when there is more oxygen in the air.
- Schedule Routine Inspections – The best way to keep your patients safe is to schedule routine inspections of your fire protection and fire alarm systems. These potentially life-saving inspections will ensure that any problems are found and addressed before it is too late.