10 Fire Safety Tips While Working from Home

Topics: Loss Control

Summary: Home fire safety may not be top of mind for remote employees, but fires pose a major threat to life and property every year. This article will share some fire prevention tips and loss control measures for those working out of a home office.

With the rise in the number of people working from home, the home office is receiving a great deal of attention. For commercial properties, there are comprehensive safety laws that cover, amongst other things, fire safety. But many of us have not put significant thought or planning into the fire safety of our home office.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that local Fire Departments receive over 370,000 reports of fires annually. These fires result in over 2,700 civilian deaths and over $7.5 billion of property loss per year. There is no denying that fire is a major issue and a potential threat to life and property.

In recognition of this and of National Preparedness Month held every September, this article looks at ten fire safety tips employees should keep in mind while working from home.

Home Fire Safety Tip #1: Install Smoke Alarms

home fire safety installing a smoke alarm

At the top of our tip list are smoke alarms. It's imperative to install these alarms in your home. It's recommended that you install one on every level of your home, with additional alarms in sleeping areas. Smoke alarms provide an early warning system in the event that a fire does break out.

Check the location of any existing fire alarms in relation to your workspace or home office. Decide whether you need one closer to or within your workspace.

Smoke alarms should be tested monthly. Most have a "test" button that provides an auditory confirmation that the alarm is functioning correctly. You should always have spare batteries available for all of your smoke alarms. It's a good plan to replace these batteries every year.

Home Fire Safety Tip #2: Fire Extinguishers

You should have at least one fire extinguisher in an easily accessible location in your home. Your fire extinguishers should be tested and serviced by a recognized professional at least every few years.

It is vitally important to know the type of extinguisher you have. This ensures you use the correct one for the kind of fire you're trying to put out. For the home office, a Class C extinguisher for electrical equipment is what you need. It is worth noting that multipurpose extinguishers are now readily available. These extinguishers are suitable for the most common types of fires in a home office or in the home.

Remember to use a fire extinguisher only if you can extinguish the fire quickly and not put anybody's life at risk.

Home Fire Safety Tip #3: Create a Fire Escape Plan

Ideally, you should create multiple escape plans that include more than one exit from every room, including doors and windows. Your escape plans should enable everybody to evacuate in less than two minutes. If required, make sure that the necessary tools, such as ladders, are readily accessible. This is important for window escapes above the first floor.

Include a designated meeting place that is a safe distance from the house.

Create diagrams of your escape routes that all members of the household easily understand. The Arlington Fire Department has a home escape plan template you can use for this purpose.

Make sure that you practice your escape plans and include everyone who is a regular household member. Your escape plan is only effective if everyone knows it without having to refer to a diagram.

Home Fire Safety Tip #4: Ensure Proper Ventilation

Here we are specifically referring to ventilation around electrical equipment, including heaters. Ideally, you should have at least 3 feet of clearance around electrical appliances. It is also recommended that you regularly clean your computer to ensure there is no dust build-up on the cooling fans. This can lead to overheating and potentially start a fire.

If you need to use a space heater in your home office, use one that has a tip-over safety switch.

Home Fire Safety Tip #5: Don’t Overload Power Sockets

When setting up your home office, it's easy to connect your computer and required peripherals, such as your printer, to one power socket. But you need to avoid this at all costs. Overloading sockets create another fire hazard.

Ideally, you should only power one appliance per socket. If you need extra outlets, then make sure to have them installed by a professional electrician. Avoid the temptation to add an adapter to an existing adapter simply because it's a quick solution.

Home Fire Safety Tip #6: Cord Maintenance

Untidy cords are a common fire hazard both in homes and offices. You should always use cord-containing devices to keep all necessary cords organized. This is another reason why working from a desk is essential, rather than sitting in bed or on your sofa.

Regularly check all cords and plugs for wear. Always replace them as soon as you notice any damage. Don't run cords under carpets or across doorways. This will expose them to unnecessary wear as well as pose a tripping hazard. It can also cause them to overheat and catch fire.

Home Fire Safety Tip #7: Use the Correct Wattage Light Bulbs

When establishing your home workspace, you want to make sure that you have sufficient lighting. When doing so, it is important to remember not to exceed the recommended wattage of your light fixtures. Your fixtures should have a marking that shows their maximum wattage.

Home Fire Safety Tip #8: Keep Liquids Away from Electronics

Liquids and electricity are distinct fire hazards. Always make sure that liquids are kept far enough away from all electronics so that if they spill, they cannot reach the electronics.

Home Fire Safety Tip #9: Keep Emergency Numbers Handy

Whether working from home or not, we should all have emergency numbers on our mobile phones. It's a good idea to memorize your national and local emergency numbers.

You might want to program a few emergency numbers on speed dial so that you can call them in a hurry. In the event of a fire, fast action saves lives – and can save your home and office space, too.

Home Fire Safety Tip #10: Checklist and Safety Review

With large workloads and the challenges of working from home, we sometimes forget things. To assist us in remembering and as a good record-keeping habit, we should have a regular safety review and checklist for our home office.

In this way, we ensure that smoke alarms are regularly tested and know when to replace their batteries. We know if our fire extinguishers need to be serviced and that our escape plans can remain the same.

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Putting Fire Safety First

Working from home comes with all kinds of challenges, but your safety shouldn't be one of them. These ten fire safety tips ensure that your environment is as safe as possible and that you're equipped to act fast should a fire break out.

Loss Control Resources for Workplace Safety

AmTrust's Loss Control Department knows that safety starts with knowledge. We can help your organization identify the specific risks facing your employees to help reduce workplace injuries. We also offer an extensive library of online resources to stay on top of industry trends and best practices. To learn more about our loss control services, please contact us today.

This material is for informational purposes only and is not legal or business advice. Neither AmTrust Financial Services, Inc. nor any of its subsidiaries or affiliates represents or warrants that the information contained herein is appropriate or suitable for any specific business or legal purpose. Readers seeking resolution of specific questions should consult their business and/or legal advisors. Coverages may vary by location. Contact your local RSM for more information.
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