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Learn about fire safety tips: Fire prevention is everyone's job
(October 7, 2009)--Staff members in the UTSA Office of Environmental Health, Safety and Risk Management (EHSRM) are working to make the UTSA community aware of National Fire Prevention Week (Oct. 4-10). It's important to remember that everyone in the UTSA community can help with fire prevention.
EHSRM manages and maintains more than 100 fixed fire suppression systems in campus buildings and more than 1,500 portable fire extinguishers. The EHSRM Fire Team also inspects campus buildings routinely to evaluate the means of egress during an emergency and works closely with the Office of Facilities Maintenance and Operations and the UTSA Police Department's Office of Business Continuity and Emergency Management to maintain and test the readiness of fire safety systems. This fall, we expect the Texas Fire Marshal's office to come to UTSA to inspect for fire safety and code compliance.
Even with the attention given by EHSRM and facilities fire systems personnel to keep UTSA facilities at peak readiness, there are common fire-safety concerns found during routine inspections and drills:
- Blocked exit egress routes (furniture in hallways)
- Obstructed exit egress signage (exit signs, building maps)
- Obstructed fire emergency devices (fire sprinklers, detectors, alarms, panels)
- Inappropriate use of extension cords (used for permanent power, daisy-chained together, used to power plug strips)
- Selection of inappropriate multi-outlet adapters and plug strips (must be 15 amp maximum, UL-listed and equipped with circuit breaker)
- Building occupants unwilling to evacuate during a building alarm (drill, false alarm or actual emergency)
Property damage and personal injury from fires and fire response can be catastrophic. UTSA building occupants can enhance the UTSA safety program by preventing these conditions from occurring, watching for these safety violations and correcting them.
EHSRM collaborates with the Facilities Services and Business Continuity and Emergency Management offices to improve UTSA preparedness by implementing fire drills. The drills can help occupants respond appropriately to emergencies by learning how to stay safe; full participation in drills can help save lives later.
EHSRM activities include fire safety training for residential advisers, inspections of UTSA residential environments, annual inspection and maintenance of portable fire extinguishers and sprinkler systems, planning and evaluating fire drills in campus buildings, inspecting kitchen fire suppression systems, and continuing monthly inspections of fire sprinkler systems and building egress pathways.
Additionally, EHSRM is presenting fire safety training for the home and office throughout the semester -- sign up through TX Class for course number SA473. We'll even bring the class to you -- if you want this content for your department. Call (210) 458-5250 to schedule a presentation.
Remember the old saying, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Nothing rings more true regarding the role everyone can play in helping to prevent fires at work or at home.
For more information on fire safety, contact the UTSA Office of Environmental Health, Safety and Risk Management at (210) 458-5250.---------------------------------
Fire Prevention Week 2009 focuses on ways to keep homes fire safe and prevent painful burns. By following simple safety rules, you can be "fire smart."
Don't get burned
- Keep hot foods and liquids away from tables and counter edges so they cannot be pulled or knocked over.
- Have a three-foot childfree zone around the stove.
- Never hold a child in your arms while preparing hot food or drinking a hot beverage.
- Teach children that hot things hurt.
- Be careful when using things that get hot such as curling irons, oven, irons, lamps and heaters.
- When using heating pads, use for only 15-20 minutes at a time and don't lie, sit or place anything on the pad.
- To avoid scalds, set the thermostat on your water heater to no higher than 120 degrees F.
- Remember that young children and older adults skin burns more easily.
- Consider installing anti-scald devices on tub faucets and showerheads.
- Test the water before placing a child or yourself in the tub.
- Never leave young children alone in the tub, shower or near a sink.
- Be careful about scalding water. The water should feel warm, not hot. Before you put your child in the tub, stir the water thoroughly and test the temperature with your wrist, elbow or the back of your hand. If you're using a thermometer with a read-out, infant bath water should be no more than 100 degrees. Even when using a thermometer use your wrist, elbow or the back of your hand as your main guide.
Cool a burn
- Treat a burn right away. Put it in cool water for three to five minutes. Cover with a clean, dry cloth.
- If the burn is bigger than your fist or if you have any questions, get medical help right away.
- Remove all clothing, diapers, jewelry and metal from the burned areas.
Cooking with caution
- The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking.
- Pay attention to what you are cooking. Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling or broiling food.
- When you are simmering, boiling, baking or roasting food, check it regularly, stay in the home and use a timer to remind you.
- If you must leave the room even for a short time, turn off the stove.
- If you have young children, use the stove's back burners whenever possible.
- Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the stove.
- When you cook, wear clothing with tight-fitting or short sleeves.
- Allow food cooked in a microwave oven to cool for a few minutes before you take it out.
- Open food from the microwave slowly. Hot steam from the container can cause burns.
The heat is on
- Have a three-foot childfree zone around open fires and heaters.
- Use a fireplace screen to keep sparks inside the fireplace.
- Turn portable space heaters off when you go to bed or leave the room.
- Keep things that can burn, such as paper, bedding or furniture, at least three feet from heaters.
- Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected each year by a professional.
- Make sure your portable space heater has an auto shut-off so if it is tipped over, it will shut off.
- Have your chimneys cleaned and inspected before each heating season.
Take it outside
- Ask smokers to smoke outside.
- Give smokers deep, sturdy ashtrays.
- Never smoke if you are tired or if you have taken medicine, drugs or alcohol that make you sleepy.
- Keep smoking materials away from things that can burn, such as bedding, furniture and clothing.
- Keep lamps, light fixtures and light bulbs away from anything that can burn, such as lampshades, bedding, curtains and clothing.
- Replace cracked and damaged electrical cords.
- Use extension cords for temporary wiring only. Consider having additional circuits or receptacles added by a qualified electrician.
- If you have young children in your home, have tamper-resistant electrical receptacles.
- Call a qualified electrician or landlord if you have recurring problems with blowing fuses or tripping circuit breakers, discolored or warm wall outlets, flickering lights, or a burning or rubbery smell coming from an appliance.
- With the economic downturn, it is important to keep a watchful eye on your neighborhood. Encourage your community to implement an anti-arson program.
- Keep trash from collecting on your property.
- Remove abandoned vehicles from your property.
- Remove dead branches that could be used as a fuel source.
- Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home. For the best protection, interconnect all smoke alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound.
- For best protection, use both photoelectric and ionization technology. You can use individual ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms or combination units that contain both technologies in the same unit.
- Test smoke alarms at least once a month using the test button.
- Replace smoke alarms every 10 years.
- Make sure everyone can hear the sound of smoke alarms.
- Have a home fire escape plan. Know at least two ways out of every room, if possible, and a meeting place outside. Practice your escape plan twice a year.
- When the smoke alarm sounds, get out and stay out.
- If you are building or remodeling your home, consider a home fire sprinkler system.