Fire safety in care homes

Fire safety is important in any industry but it’s especially crucial in care homes, where a large number of people depend on your knowledge to keep them safe in an emergency. Here, industrial equipment retailer Slingsby discusses the fire safety risk assessment process and how to implement precautionary measures throughout any care home.

1. Identify the hazards

In a care home, they can be a number of potential hazards. A fire can start if oxygen, fuel and a source of ignition come together, so you should do all you can to prevent this from happening. While oxygen is ever-present, some potential hazards you may come across include:

• Ignition sources o Cooking equipment o Naked flames o Faulty electrical equipment o Smoking materials • Fuel sources o Laundry o Toiletries o Wooden furniture o Soft furnishings o Decorations 2. Identify the people at risk

There are many people at risk of fire in a care home. Residents with mobility difficulties may be unable to leave the building unassisted, while others may not be able to move quickly. In addition to the residents, you should consider the risk posed to staff too, including temporary contractors and visiting guests.

3. Put precautions in place

Once you have identified the hazards and the risks faced, you can start to put precautions in place to ensure an emergency does not occur. 

o Keep ignition sources to a minimum — you can do this by: o Maintaining equipment to the manufacturer’s standards. o Replacing naked flames and heating systems with safer alternatives. o Ensure there are designated smoking areas with adequate ashtrays. o Reduce fuel sources o Where possible, avoid large piles of combustible materials, such as paper and plastic.  o Store combustible items away from ignition sources. o Carefully store combustible waste until it can be disposed of. o Reduce oxygen sources o Shutting doors and windows where possible can prevent oxygen flow around the home. o Keep oxidising materials away from sources of ignition.

As well as taking the above precautions, you’ll need to make sure you have the correct fire safety equipment. Fire detection and warning systems, fire extinguishers and other firefighting equipment are all essential, while you’ll also need to plan safe and effective evacuation routes that are clearly highlighted and easily followed.

4. Plan and train

The next step is to use your findings to formulate a more concrete evacuation strategy. You should record your findings, create an emergency plan and clearly communicate it to all. Ensure staff are fully aware of the correct procedures so they can effectively help others and carry out regular fire drills.

5. Review

To ensure your fire risk assessment remains suitable for the building, you should constantly review and amend where necessary. This will help keep everyone safe.

For more details about fire risk assessment, access this government PDF guide.

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