While the chances of accidental fires in the office may be the last thing on our minds, Winter places us under increasing risk as we use our heating appliances more often.
Of course, it is always wise to make sure your commercial insurance covers you for fire damage, but having the right office fire safety measures should be first on your priority list. It goes without saying that the trauma that comes with uncontrolled fires is worth avoiding at all costs.
To help you enforce fire safety and ensure your employees are protected from any harm, we’ve written up a few pointers on office fire safety.
Establish an emergency response plan – do you have a proper fire emergency response plan in place? Being prepared in the event of an emergency can be the difference between life and death. As part of your plan, you should show your employees where all the fire extinguishers are located and teach them how to use them. It’s also wise to have a map of all the entrances and exits in the office building and run escape drills (at least once a year) to make sure everyone knows how to get out of the building as quickly as possible.
Fireproof your office cooking area – simple things such as installing fire sensors in the most at-risk areas, ensuring employees leave all cooking appliances unplugged after use and moving appliances a fair distance away from any flammable objects such as serviettes, dishcloths or curtains, can go a long way to fireproofing your office. As an employer, you should also make sure your staff know how important it is not to leave their lunches unattended while cooking them. Unattended microwave popcorn, for instance, can lead to fire in only a few minutes with such a rapid heat build-up.
Be very cautious with portable heaters – portable heaters are a major cause of office fires, so it’s important to keep a close eye on them. Second to keeping them away from flammable objects, it’s a really good idea to unplug them after use – it can be so easy to forget, and so setting a reminder on your phone may be necessary for the sake of your office’s safety.
If you are in the process of considering which heaters to buy for your office, try opting for ceramic heaters if possible, as these are known to be one of the safest options.
Don’t overload circuits – making use of extension cords in the office should only be reserved for temporary occasions and they should always be unplugged when they’re not in use. Having too many devices drawing on an electrical circuit, that has been designed to handle a limited amount of electricity, can overload it and could cause the wiring to overheat, melt the insulation and cause a fire.
List the contact numbers of essential fire emergency services – You should keep a list of all the relevant fire emergency services in your area and ensure that the list is placed in an area where everyone can easily see it.
After reading these office fire safety tips, we hope that you and your employees are more alert when it comes to potential fire hazards in your office and that you will take time to think about how to fireproof it as best you can.
For more information on fire safety, visit the Fire Protection Association of Southern Africa.