While some workplace fires are caused by accidental factors, such as faulty electrical wiring, many are the result of preventable human error. In fact, the leading cause of workplace fires is careless smoking. Other common causes include welding and cutting operations, flammable liquids and gasses, and electrical equipment.
What to do if there is a fire in your workplace:
The first thing you need to do is assess the situation. Is the fire large or small? Is it contained or spreading? If the fire is small and contained, you may be able to use a fire extinguisher to put it out. However, only attempt to do this if you have been properly trained and you feel confident that you can safely extinguish the fire.
Once you have determined that it is safe to extinguish the fire, you will need to identify the type of fire extinguisher to use.
Types of fire extinguishers:
- Class A extinguishers are for fires that involve paper or wood
- Class B extinguishers are for fires that involve flammable liquids like gasoline or oil
- Class C extinguishers are for fires that involve electrical equipment.
How to use a fire extinguisher – remember to PASS:
- Pull the pin at the top of the extinguisher in order to release the handle.
- Aim the nozzle of the extinguisher at the base of the fire.
- Squeeze the handle in order to release the extinguishing agent.
- Sweep the nozzle back and forth until the fire is extinguished.
Never use water to put out a grease fire. Water will only spread the grease and make the fire worse!
Preventing fires in the workplace:
- Maintain a clean and organized work area
- Use proper storage techniques for flammable liquids and gasses
- Keep electrical equipment in good working order
- If you smoke, always use a designated smoking area and make sure to properly dispose of your cigarette butt. Never smoke near flammable liquids or electrical equipment.
- Have a fire safety plan in place and conduct regular fire drills. Employees should know what to do in the event of a fire, and everyone should be familiar with the layout of the building so that they can evacuate quickly and safely.
- Ensure you have the correct type of fire extinguisher for your workplace and that it is in good working order and within its expiration date
How to treat burns:
- Remove any clothing or jewelry that is close to the burned area. If the clothing is stuck to the skin, do not try to remove it as this could make the injury worse.
- Hold the burned area under cool running water for at least five minutes. This will help to reduce the pain and swelling.
- If the burn is larger than three inches or if it is on the face, hands, feet, or genitals, seek medical attention immediately.
- For smaller burns, you can apply a cool, wet compress to the area.
- Do not use ice, butter, or any other home remedy on a burn. These can actually make the injury worse.
We hope that this guide has been helpful in teaching you how to properly use a fire extinguisher. Remember, always stay calm and follow the steps above.
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