Posts Tagged ‘fire extinguisher’

5-point Safety Checkup for Daylight Savings Time Change

Wednesday, November 1st, 2017

Emergency waiting to happenJust waiting for you to make a mistake!

It’s “Spring Forward, Fall Back” time here again this weekend. Along with re-setting the clocks, this time of year now has expanded to include reminders for emergency preparedness.

Of course, you know about checking the batteries in your smoke alarm. But that’s just the start! So read on, for some simple actions that if overlooked could put you in BIG trouble.

To the extent that your safety and security depend in part on your neighbors’ preparedness, be sure you share this list with them, too!

1-Change the batteries in your smoke alarm.

You should know this statistic from the National Fire Protection Association by heart: Three of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.  Nuff said?

And here’s a real life story to go with the statistic.

A couple of years ago on a Saturday, the local fire department, police department cadets, some EMTs, and the Red Cross, supported by our Neighborhood Emergency Response Team, installed 461 new smoke alarms in our neighborhood! (Funded by a grant, in case you’re wondering.)

The alarm packaging said, “10-year guarantee” so naturally we were all annoyed when people began reporting that their smoke alarms were “chirping.”

Here’s what we discovered about alarms chirping:

  • Nearly all people who heard the chirping incorrectly identified where it was coming from! In nearly every case, it was from an already installed OLD alarm, and not the new one.
  • The 10-year guarantee works for the mechanism. When it comes to the battery, the guarantee applies only to alarms that have sealed lithium batteries. If your smoke alarm has a replaceable battery, check it and replace it or it will surely start chirping, like ours did, in the middle of the night!
  • Every battery has an indicated life. Just remember, you may buy new batteries today but you don’t know how much of that “life” has already expired while the battery was on a shelf somewhere.

Upshot? Simply replace your alarm batteries twice a year when the time changes. A few dollars invested can save your life.

2-Change the batteries in your walkie-talkies.

Same concept: when the emergency hits, if you don’t have fresh batteries, you may have lost an important tool.

Walkie-talkies take AA or AAA batteries. Over the years we have tested different brands and over the years the “winner” in the test has been different every time!

Get the right size, get the longest life available, and TEST them regularly. Every month we catch a couple of dead Walkie-Talkies during our monthly drill. (Of course, if people forget to turn the Walkie-talkies off after the drill, the chances of the batteries going bad are about 100%.) (And corroded batteries can destroy the walkie-talkie, too.)

Don’t have Walkie-talkies for your group or family? Here’s our walkie-talkie reviews to get you started on adding some.

3-Check your fire extinguishers and replace if they have lost pressure.

Fire extinguishers can last many years, but – Do you really remember when you bought yours?

A good extinguisher has a pressure gauge to help you track its functionality. Check the gauge when the time changes, if not more frequently. Not sure if the extinguisher is any good? Get a new one.

Looking to re-charge your extinguisher? We’ve looked, and haven’t found a reasonably-priced service. Maybe you can find one, but chances don’t seem to be very good.

4-Refresh your first aid kits.

We’ve written before about the drawbacks of most purchased first aid kits.

Still, you’ll want to start with a basic kit, and add your own enhancements.

At the left is a starter kit, available at Amazon, that looks even better than ones we’ve recommended before. Click on the image to get full details, but note to start with that this kit has soft sides with pockets labeled so you can see everything at a glance.  (Most of the inexpensive kits that I see are simply a zippered container with contents thrown in.)

Any first aid kit needs customization, and that’s where a regular check-up is important. At the time change, pull together all your kits (from your cars, your Go-Bags, etc.) and look in particular for . . .

  • Small medicine bottles whose contents have dried up completely.
  • Tubes of medicine that have been accidentally crimped or punctured and are oozing gook.
  • Band aids that have torn packaging and thus have lost sterility and stick.
  • Pills that have expired.
  • Scissors or other tools that have mysteriously developed spots of rust.

Repeal and replace as appropriate!

5-Clean out coils and filters to prevent fire.

We’re talking refrigerator, heater, and clothes dryer. All these collect dust and lint in hard-to-see and harder-to-get-to places, and can overheat or even (in the case of the dryer) burst into flames.

Enlist help to move or open any pieces of equipment or access doors, and attack with the wand and the crevice tool of your vacuum cleaner.

When you’ve finished vacuuming, empty its dust container and replace the filter in the vacuum, too.

While we’re on vacuum cleaners, a couple more safety notes:

  • Don’t leave a vacuum cleaner running while you go to another room. It can overheat and start a fire! (Just go onto YouTube to see a number of dramatic examples. . .!)
  • Check the cord and plug of your vacuum to be sure they aren’t damaged or frayed. These cords get hot! (Even the cord of my quite new Navigator gets really warm, just from being in normal use.)

That’s it.

You may have discovered that your 60 minute time change job has turned into a multi-hour project!

However, once you’ve gone through the steps once, it’ll be easier next time. Also, you may be able to turn the whole thing into a family bonding exercise by delegating different jobs to different family members, and presenting it as a contest!

However you get through the 5-point list, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing your home is good to go for another six months. And you won’t be caught by an emergency just waiting to happen — as represented by the eager dinosaur in the picture!

Your Emergency Plan Guide Team


Safety Checklist for New Employees

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

Safety Is Your Responsibility

Where's the nearest fire extinguisher?

Are you a business owner? in charge of emergency response at your work? an employee of any sort?

If you’ve been there a while, you should be able to check off every item on the Safety Checklist below. Someone new, however, will have to make an effort to figure out all the answers.

New or experienced, these are SIMPLE THINGS THAT EVERYONE NEEDS TO KNOW every day they come to work!

Read below the checklist for additional commentary and links to more in-depth articles.

The 12-Point Checklist


More In-Depth Info on Employee Safety

Some Advisories with more details for workplace preparedness:

If you want a more detailed review of how to build a Simple Business Continuation Plan – download it here:

Suggested Next Steps for the Company

You can put this checklist to work in just about any workplace – office, factory, hotel, retail operation – wherever your business is located. Of course, you may prefer to use it as a sample and make your own, more customized version.

Either way, here are 3 suggestions for how to proceed:

  1. Share this article and the checklist with management. See what items they can check off; are there any items no one has thought of, or knows the answer to? Be sure you understand which items might have some liability connected to them.
  2. Decide on a plan for sharing the checklist (or a customized version) with all current employees. Turn it into a team effort, or a competition — whatever works to engage people and get them more aware of safety and their surroundings!
  3. Add the checklist to your on-boarding process for new employees. Obviously, they will need a helpful partner to be able to get through the list. I think they’ll find it to be a comforting exercise and one that will impress upon them the company’s commitment to preparedness and to safety.

Disclaimer from

This handy checklist is not meant to be a full assessment of employee or workplace preparedness. Rather, it is meant as a simple, easy tool to create more awareness among people who are working together.

If the checklist starts a conversation about what’s missing, consider it a bonus. And then, put together a plan to fill those gaps!

We are committed to a continuing conversation about being ready for emergencies. As always, the more the people around us know, the better off we ALL will be!

Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

Fire Danger in High-rise Buildings

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017

High rise fire
Intro: At Emergency Plan Guide, we try to write about subjects we know something about from personal experience. (It helps to be “a mature adult!”)  But until we become paid reality-show stars, some things we have to write about as observers.

The news is often an inspiration. Last week I wrote about hurricanes — though I have never lived through one. This week, it’s a fire in a high-rise.

The closest I’ve been to that is living through a fire on a ferry boat — not exactly the same thing, but certainly some similarities.

The point of all this? My own experience may be limited, and the risks that I face may be limited. But we all will  face a variety of emergencies FOR THE FIRST TIME. I’m convinced that simply being open to ever more more knowledge gives us a better chance of surviving. That’s what keeps me learning and writing.

With that, here’s this week’s offering. 


The high-rise apartment building fire in London was horrifying. And deadly. When I started this Advisory – 3 days after the fire – the number of people missing and presumed dead had risen to 58. As of today, 2 days later, it is now at 79 missing and presumed dead.

High-rise fires are alarming but infrequent.

High-rise fires are always particularly horrifying. We all picture flames shooting up the sides of buildings, far above the street, and we can imagine the terror of the people trapped inside.

Still, with the exception of terrorist acts, the threat posed by fires in high-rise buildings isn’t as great as that in low buildings.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, in all the structure fires in a year, around 2,600 people die – but only 40 of them are in high-rise building fires.

Moreover, the NFPA says the danger of fire in high-rises is going down.

Why? It’s a function of old buildings being replaced by newer ones.

Modern high-rise buildings have fire-suppression protections that work.

If you’ve read the details about the London fire, you will discover that the 24-story Grenfell Tower did NOT have such protections. According to news reports:

  • Only one stairwell was available for residents.
  • There was no sprinkler system.
  • Recent “upgrades” to the building included a plastic-filled cladding material that was not fire-resistant.

What do you know about the building you are about to enter???

Safety depends on the building codes in effect.

In the United States, national and state codes regulate new construction and, to a certain extent, upgrades or retrofits. Generally, these codes apply to different aspects of the building – some of which we, as consumers, may be aware of, and other that are hidden from sight but just as important.

Outside the U.S., codes and standards may be different. For example, in the case of the London fire, the new cladding would not have been allowed in the U.S. (A visitor to the building wouldn’t have known that. Even the residents of Grenfell Tower, who had requested fire-resistant upgrades, may not have realized that their new cladding did not meet that standard.)

So, whether living, working or traveling, here are some questions to get answered before you stay in a high-rise building.

It’s good practice to answer these every time you enter a high-rise building!

1-Is there a fire alarm or smoke alarm system?

Easy enough to find out. If you don’t see installed alarm buttons, just ask!

2-Is there a fire sprinkler system?

An alarm doesn’t fight a fire!

So, look up and see if you can identify sprinklers. These are the key safety feature – in fact, they have been determined to be 97% effective in suppressing fire. (The other 3% didn’t work because they water supply wasn’t hooked up right, or the system wasn’t properly maintained.)

Don’t see any sprinkler heads? Are they blocked by furniture or decorations? Ask property management if a system has been installed.

This is the very most important feature for high-rise fire safety! No sprinkler? Don’t stay!

(An older building can be retrofitted with a fire sprinkler system. Unfortunately, it costs many times more to put in after the fact that if it had been incorporated into the original building. So, building owners may resist adding systems if the law doesn’t require it.)

3-Where are the fire exits?

Look for signs. Identify more than one exit. Check diagrams of the building so you would know which way to go if you couldn’t see because of darkness or smoke.

4-Where are the stairwells?

Again, note the PLURAL word. Every high-rise building needs more than one set of stairs. Note where stairs are located so if you need to evacuate, and one set of stairs is blocked, you can go down the other. (Remember, in a fire, one stairwell may be reserved for use by fire fighters.)

5-Are there fire doors in the hallways?

Modern buildings include fire doors that close in the case of a fire, keeping it from spreading. Usually, these doors are held open electromagnetically, and if a fire alarm goes off the circuit is broken and the door closes by itself.

Bad sign: Fire doors are blocked so they cannot close.

Again, under normal circumstances you may never notice these doors because they are “hidden” by the décor. However, it is good to know that in an emergency you may come upon a door that you didn’t expect.

6-How would people with a disability be assisted in case of a fire?

While you may see special signs for emergency procedures for people in a wheelchair, etc., it is up to you to figure out how you will handle an emergency.

Other fire safety features to look for, in any building.

1-What is the maximum occupancy?

Overfilled rooms, theaters, restaurants, stadiums, etc. may be more dangerous if there is panic. Be aware of where exits are located, and in an emergency do not automatically head for the door where you came in. Is there a better exit option?

(In my experience it’s fun and valuable to train children on a regular basis to look for multiple exits. As you settle down in movie theater seats, ask, “How many exits do you see? Or, how many ways to do you see that we could get out of here?”)

2-Where are fire extinguishers?

In a commercial building in the U.S., there’s sure to be one not far away!

Usually, local fire codes require that fire extinguishers be installed based on square footage, and they also require that you be able to find one no more than 75 feet away. (“75 feet” is only an example. Specifics may change slightly in a different state and in a different type of building.)

In any case, when you enter a building or room, it’s a good idea to look around to see if you can locate the nearest hand-held extinguisher.

This assumes you know HOW TO USE an extinguisher, of course.

What to do if there is a fire in a high-rise?

Fire experts still say “shelter in place” is the best advice IF THE BUILDING HAS PROPER FIRE SUPPRESSION PROTECTION.

(Stuff towels under the door to block smoke from entering, stay alert for instructions.)

Sprinkler systems have been in use for over 100 years. They provide 24/7 protection, turning on automatically when sprinkler heads reach a certain heat level. Fires can be caught and put out without people even realizing it until later.

Once again, if you plan to visit or stay in a high-rise building without a sprinkler system, think twice. Think three times!  You may want to find another option.

Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

Want more information about fires and how to avoid a disaster? Check out these Advisories:

Get out now! Your Home Evacuation Plan

Friday, September 25th, 2015

Stop reading right now. Look up. Look around. What are TWO WAYS you could get out of the room?

  • Will that window open?
  • Can you really squeeze through?
  • Can you get down outside or do you need a ladder?


Did you have to pause and consider?

I hope not!  These are answers you should know before anything happens.

In fact, everyone in your family should know the answers to these questions BEFORE an emergency happens.

Are you leaving your children defenseless?

Unless you point these exits out, your children will never think of them. In an emergency, they will likely run to try to find YOU, even if evacuating would save them.

Here’s an exercise you can do on a Saturday that will answer questions and give you all a much better sense of security.

Design your Home Evacuation Plan together.

It’s a step by step process that everyone in the family takes part in. You’ll need a pad of paper and some colored pencils. And one BIG piece of paper to assemble everything on.

Step 1.  Sketch a plan of your home.

One sketch for each floor, or, if your young children are part of the exercise, let each child sketch a separate room. Approximate sizes are fine.

Be sure all doors and windows are marked on the plan.

Combine separate pieces into one master plan. (You can redraw or even cut and paste.)

Step 2. Mark at least two exits from each room on your plan.

Plan in hand, take a walk from room to room. Mark potential exits. You may want to use two colors, one for PRIMARY and the other for SECONDARY exits. You may be able to get out, but can all the children? What about grandmother?

If you need special equipment to escape (a ladder), note that on your plan and mark where it is stored.  (Obviously, if you don’t already have the equipment, start a shopping list on a separate piece of paper! More resources below . . .)

Step 3. Note the location of special safety shut-offs for your house.

Keep touring the house. Mark where utility shut-offs are located. Does everyone know when and how to shut off the water? The gas? Again, is a special tool required, like a wrench? Note where it is stored.

Where are the electrical shut-offs? There may be more than one panel. Talk about under what conditions you would shut off the electricity.

Step 4. Where are emergency supplies kept?

In particular, note on your plan the location of fire extinguishers, flashlights and lanterns, and first aid kits.  (You can use icons if your plan is getting crowded.)

Where are your evacuation/survival kits stored?

Step 5. Last step: mark on your plan the family’s emergency meeting place — OUTSIDE of the house.

On the sample plan below, the family has designated a particular tree as the meeting place. Be sure the meeting place is far enough away from the house to keep people safe in case there’s a fire.

evacuationplanwoodbuffalo(Thanks to the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, Alberta, Canada for this drawing.)

A few more thoughts to help drive the point home:

  • Save and review your plan from time to time, particularly if you add new rooms, new equipment, etc.
  • Take a photo of the plan and share it with other family members (or maybe even with students at a show-and-tell session at school) to see if others will be inspired to follow suit.
  • If you will be shopping for emergency equipment, you may find more info in some of our special Advisories, listed below.

Can you get this done before National Preparedness Month is over?? Good luck!

Your Emergency Plan Guide team

More Resources  from Emergency Plan Guide:

Escape ladders: Your 12-year-old can get down any type of ladder, but what about others in the family?  We’ve looked at many of the escape ladders and think that the  Werner, 2-story version is a good place to start your shopping. It can carry more than one person at once. Here’s the link to Amazon: Werner ESC220 Fire Escape Ladder, Two Story

Fire extinguishers: We actually experienced a kitchen fire and used the extinguisher we’d just put in place!  Read the story and learn more about the different types of extinguishers. A good all-purpose extinguisher is this one, made by Kidde: Kidde 21005779 Pro 210 Fire Extinguisher, ABC, 160CI

First aid kits: Most kits you buy are woefully lacking. But you can start with a purchased one and add your own. We held a neighborhood meeting to discuss first aid kits — read about it here — and my search on Amazon for a good starter yielded this one by AAA: AAA 121-Piece Road Trip First Aid Kit

When Seconds Count — Emergency Preparedness Videos

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

Do you know what to do in each of these situations?

Last Wednesday was the regular meeting for our local Neighborhood Emergency Response Team volunteers. Lately members have asked for “more training” on a variety of threats – threats we don’t normally spend much time on here in Southern California.

So we decided to devote this meeting to some dangers that most people in the room had heard of but probably never faced.

In fact, before the program, we took a poll of the people in the room. Not one person had ever encountered killer bees. No one had landed in a canal or river in their car, although two of them had temporarily lost control of a car in flooding water on city streets. And only three people had ever actually used a fire extinguisher to put out a fire.

Emergency Preparedness VideosKeeping CERT Training Interesting With a “Movie Night”

The meeting went well! We had searched carefully on YouTube for short (4-5 minute) videos. Before showing each one, we prompted people to watch for a particular scene or to note the answer to a pertinent question.

Here are three of the videos we used for the program, along with the questions for each.

“Where is the nearest fire extinguisher to the room we are in right now?” “ Where’s the next nearest one?” “ Do you know if they have been recently checked?”  (We were in a large meeting room that had an extinguisher on the back wall. Only one person had already noted its location! No one knew where any other extinguisher was located.)

This particular video is aimed at employees in a work setting but applies just as well to residents of a home.

“Where are killer bees in the U.S.?” “Are there any where we live?” (I was prepared for this question and had downloaded an interactive graph that shows how bees have spread in the U.S. since 1990. Here it is: )

“Are we located in an area likely to flood?” (Consider the Red River’s recent flooding in Louisiana!) “What about electric car windows?” “How do you break a window?” (One of our volunteers had a spring-loaded window breaker on his key chain, just like the one demonstrated in the video. You can see one here and get it in time for your own upcoming meeting: resqme The Original Keychain Car Escape Tool, Made in USA (Black) (Use it as a door prize — always popular! Or get several and share the fun.)

CERT As Entertainment?

One of the LinkedIn groups that I follow has been debating the necessity of sticking to CERT training as laid out by FEMA. Obviously, a meeting such as the one described here is not covered in the official training materials.

However, in my experience, there’s a difference between training for dedicated CERT graduates and awareness training for ordinary citizens.

Of course, those of us who are CERT graduates attend the follow-up trainings put on by our city. (Next week it’s a Light Search and Rescue refresher.)

But as a Neighborhood Emergency Response leader I am committed to my entire community. So we do what we can to attract all people and engage them in emergency preparedness activities.

Our Movie Night was one of those efforts.

Would something like this work for YOUR group? Try it, and let me know!

Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

P.S. If you haven’t yet heard, I pulled together over two dozen different meeting planning ideas for use by community leaders. You can get more info and order a copy at



Fire In Your Home!

Monday, April 6th, 2015

How safe are you? Take this quiz.

Cigarettes cause fatal firesPick the correct answer:

  1. According to FEMA, what is the leading cause of residential fires in the U.S.?
  • Kitchen fires
  • Smoking
  • Wild fires
  1. What is the leading cause of civilian deaths caused by fire?
  • Kitchen fires
  • Smoking
  • Wild fires

True or False:

  1. Cooking is and has long been the leading cause of home structure fires and home fire injuries.
  2. Most cooking fires and cooking deaths are a result of the heat source being too close to combustibles.
  3. Households that use electric ranges have a higher risk of fires than those using gas ranges.
  4. Fires caused by smoking material (burning tobacco) are on the increase.
  5. The risk of dying in a home structure fire caused by smoking materials rises with age.

The peak day of the year for home cooking fires is: ____________________

The Answers

Here are some statistics to ponder.

In 2012, 36.8% of home fires causing injury started from cooking. (Many more kitchen fires actually take place, but are put out by occupants and not reported.)

That same year, smoking caused 15% of the fires resulting in fatalities, followed closely by carelessness (13%) and then fires set on purpose (12%).


Most kitchen fires happen when the cook leaves whatever is cooking unattended. And most of those involve frying on electric ranges

The right portable fire extinguisher can be effectively used to suppress small fires in their beginning stages. However, the extinguisher must be properly rated and needs to be positioned where you can get it quickly and safely.

If you blast a skillet full of flaming cooking grease with the wrong extinguisher, you’ll create a fireball, greatly increasing the size of the fire and threatening you with serious burn injuries.

The day with the most cooking fires? Thanksgiving Day!


Three-quarters of deaths due to smoking-material fires involve fires starting in bedrooms (40%) or in living rooms, family rooms, and dens (35%). The item most frequently ignited is trash, but trash doesn’t kill – people die when upholstered furniture catches.

Nearly half (46%) fatal home smoking-material fire victims were age 65 or older.

One out of four fatal victims of smoking-material fires is not the smoker whose cigarette started the fire.

The Action

  • Stop smoking. If you smoke, do it outside. Carefully put out your butts.
  • Be ready in the kitchen.
    1. Clear space around the stove. No mitts, no clipboards, no recipe holders.
    2. Have a lid and/or cookie sheet READY to cover a grease fire. It has to fit SNUGLY on top of the pan, blocking all air.
    3. Have a large box of baking soda handy to dump on and smother a small fire.
    4. Buy a kitchen fire extinguisher and position it between the stove and the door. Be sure you know how to use it. Remember that a powerful fire extinguisher could SPLASH AND SPREAD THE FLAMES if directed too closely at a burning grease fire.
  • If a fire starts in a pan . . .
    1. Try to put it out immediately! It can grow too big to handle within 30 seconds.
    2. Do not move a flaming pan. You could spill flaming grease all across the floor or counter, instantly creating multiple fires!
    3. Cover the stationary pan with a lid, cookie sheet or wet towel. Make sure all air is blocked.
    4. Turn off the burner.
    5. Leave the pan until everything has cooled.
  • If you can’t control the fire at the pan . . .
    1. Be sure other occupants are evacuated.
    2. Use your fire extinguisher. Pull the pin, aim, squeeze and sweep. Start several steps away and approach the fire as you see the effect of the spray.
    3. If not successful, call 911 and leave the home.

Fire is the most common emergency your family is likely to face, so share this information with them! Be sure your children know how to put out a cooking fire, and train older children in the use of a fire extinguisher.

If family members haven’t been trained about how to respond to a fire in the kitchen, they are likely to do the wrong thing!

You can find dramatic videos on YouTube that show what happens when grease ignites, what happens when people try to move the pan, or when water is thrown on the fire. And you can find good training for how to use a fire extinguisher there, too.  Take advantage of this great resource.

Want more details?

Two websites with statistical info:

And this Emergency Plan Guide Advisory gives tips on shopping for fire extinguishers:

Fire extinguisher, anyone? 

Hope you take this Advisory to heart. In this case, there’s no need to become a statistic when you know what to do.

Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

Share this quiz and its answers with your neighborhood emergency response group, too. Remember, the more prepared your neighbors are, the safer YOU will be!

Emergency Action Plan in Your Workplace – What Protection Does It Really Provide?

Sunday, July 28th, 2013

Fire exit signThe US Department of Labor has a division called Occupational Safety and Health Administration, otherwise known as OSHA. I’m sure you’ve heard of it!

OSHA deals with a wide variety of employment issues, including protecting privacy, procedures for non-discrimination and retaliation, etc. OSHA also sets standards for safety, including requirements for Emergency Action Plans.  Does your workplace have a Plan?  Is it working for you?  Here’s an overview to start the conversation . . .

Who needs an Emergency Action Plan?

Just about every business. Take a look around your workplace. Do you see any fire extinguishers? If there were a fire, would you and co-workers need to evacuate the premises? These are the two key questions, so if you answer “Yes” to either one, you need to have an Emergency Action Plan!

What are the requirements for a Plan?

  • It must be in writing.
  • It must be kept in the workplace.
  • It must be available to employees for review. (An employer with 10 or fewer employees may simply announce the plan contents in a staff meeting or otherwise orally.)


What does the plan contain?

  • Information about how to report a fire or other emergency (Public address system? Call 911? Pull fire alarm?)
  • Evacuation procedures and identification of escape routes (Nearest exit? Maps or diagrams?)
  • Location of fire extinguishers and who is authorized to use them (Not everyone?)
  • Critical steps to be taken before the workplace is emptied (Shut down equipment? Close doors? Do nothing, just get out?)
  • Procedures for keeping track of all employees after an evacuation (Where are records?)
  • Rescue and medical duties for those employees who are to perform them
  • Who to contact for more information


How often does the plan have to be updated, or shared with employees?

Clearly, a number of plan items need to be regularly updated, such as the list of employees and the list of employees with special emergency skills or who require special training. There doesn’t seem to be a requirement to revise the plan on any regular basis, or to actually practice it. The plan must be shared with all employees covered by it, however, including new employees.

What if we should have a plan, but don’t?

OSHA provides an on-line eTool that you can use to create a basic plan. Just fill in the blanks and print it out. (Note that the material is NOT SAVED if you stop in the middle, so you need to complete all sections in one sitting.) You will discover that the questions, while simple, will force you to make some important distinctions about employee behavior in an emergency. You can find the eTool at:

What’s the bottom line?
An Emergency Action Plan is really only a FIRE EVACUATION PLAN

It is not an emergency preparedness plan or a disaster response plan. It has no provisions for assembling emergency supplies to protect employees or plans to protect the business itself in the event of a disaster. Still, it is a first step to survival awareness.

Action Item: Be sure your workplace has an Emergency Action Plan as a bare minimum

Stay tuned to Emergency Plan Guide Advisories, because we’ll be dealing in more detail on Business Continuity planning.

Virginia and Joe
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team



Fire Extinguisher Anyone?

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

Consider these three types of fires:

  1. Structure fires
  2. Vehicle fires
  3. Outside fires

Quiz: What’s the most frequent type of fire? Which type is increasing the fastest? Which kills the most civilians?

Answer: From a report cited on the National Fire Protection Association, outside and wildfires are increasing five times faster than other fires! But the most people die in structure fires – some 2,640 in 2011. One structure fire is reported every 65 seconds.

You probably have fire extinguishers at work.  What about at home?

Unobtrusive but handy

Unobtrusive and handy

Fire in the kitchen!

Last year, at our daughter’s house, we had the occasion to use an extinguisher just like the white one shown here. (This one is in our kitchen; our daughter’s extinguisher was in her pantry.) For some unknown reason, food in the toaster oven caught fire and started smoking. In the excitement, she opened the door – and flames burst out and up, licking against the bottom of the cupboards.

Joe shoved her aside, grabbed the fire extinguisher, pulled the safety pin (had to try twice), and doused everything. What a cloud of white! But while the toaster oven ended up a pathetic shriveled piece of blackened metal, the counter, cupboards and the rest of us were fine with just a little dusting.

The right extinguisher?

Did we check in advance to be sure we were using the right extinguisher? No! But she had the designer model, and it turns out that the typical kitchen model is a BC extinguisher. That is, it is designed to put out fires that may be caused by

  • Burning liquids, oil or grease
  • Electrical equipment, wiring, appliances

On the other hand, the all-purpose model for the garage is an ABC extinguisher. It is designed to handle:

  • Ordinary combustibles like paper, wood and plastics
  • Burning liquids, oil or grease
  • Electrical equipment, wiring, appliances
In the green zone

In the green zone

Properly charged?

Check the pressure gauge on a regular basis! The arrow needs to be pointing to the green area. In our experience, some extinguishers hold their charge for years, and others lose it more rapidly. It’s like batteries . . .

Conveniently mounted?

It only takes a moment for a fire to catch hold. It’s that moment when you have the chance to act. Mount your extinguisher where it is visible and so you’ll know it is there when you need it. Tucking a loose extinguisher behind the door or in a cupboard will delay your response in an emergency.

The right size?

Small extinguishers may be appropriate for an automobile, but we recommend the larger 3 lb. size for household use. The cost for a good extinguisher starts at about $30 and can go up from there.

Tell us YOUR story about how you have used an extinguisher! The more stories we get and share about how extinguishers have saved property and lives, the more people get out there and get one! Just leave a comment in the reply box!