Causes of Fires in Healthcare Facilities
Fires in healthcare facilities are an unfortunate fact of life. These fires can be caused by a variety of factors, including improperly stored or used oxygen, drugs and alcohol abuse by staff members and visitors, cooking equipment left on unattended overnight or during breaks, electrical issues related to poorly maintained wiring systems or faulty equipment.
Improperly Stored or used Oxygen
Oxygen is used in hospitals for medical purposes. The most common uses of oxygen include, storage of oxygen in tanks or cylinders, use in medical equipment such as nebulizers and use during medical procedures such as laser surgery or cataract operations.
Hospitals store a wide variety of drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter. Many of these medications are highly flammable and can be ignited by sources as small as a cigarette lighter or even an electrical ignition source such as a defibrillator. Alcohol is another potential fire hazard because it is a solvent that can ignite on contact with an open flame or spark. In addition to these materials being stored at the hospital's pharmacies, they may also be used in areas such as operating rooms and emergency rooms to treat patients before surgery begins or after it has been completed.
Smoking is a leading cause of fires in healthcare facilities. A combination of common causes such as matches, lighters and candles may ignite tobacco products left unattended, or even smoldering cigarettes left in ashtrays.
Staff and visitors are prohibited from smoking within all patient rooms, common areas and patient parking lots, including waiting areas with signs at entrances that state: "No Smoking". The prohibition also extends to balconies where patients may be treated outdoors.
Because cooking equipment is used in healthcare facilities to prepare food for patients and staff, fires can occur when cooking equipment is not properly maintained or used. For example, a hot plate may be left unattended on a countertop while the staff member who was using it goes to another room to complete another task. In this case, if the hot plate isn't turned off or put away properly after use and left unattended, it may start a fire if someone comes along later and touches it while it is still hot.
Cooking equipment also needs to be stored properly so as not to pose any danger of starting a fire. In addition, staff members need training in how to avoid any unnecessary exposure to heat sources such as heating elements in stoves or microwaves.
Chemicals and Solvents
Chemicals and solvents are used in healthcare facilities for a variety of purposes. They can be found in cleaning products, medical equipment, and even some medications.
However, chemicals and solvents can also be hazardous if they catch fire or if they are not stored properly. If you work with dangerous chemicals or solvents at your job, it's important to know what makes these materials so dangerous when exposed to heat sources like flames or high temperatures.
Electrical issues are the leading cause of fires in healthcare facilities. Electrical issues can be caused by faulty wiring, overloaded circuits, and improper use of extension cords. They might also be caused by equipment that is not properly grounded to protect against electrical shock or electrocution hazards.
Electrical problems can result from damaged or worn out electrical cords, plugs and/or sockets, loose connections, damaged insulation, worn out wires, loose screws holding switches together with the panel box (also known as a junction box). Overloaded circuits due to adding new lights without upgrading wiring service and ungrounded outlets installed in wet areas where water may seep into a receptacle's ground prong area because of poor installation practices or conditions such as excessive moisture accumulation within an enclosure.
It’s important for hospitals and healthcare facilities to have a plan in place for fire safety. It should be part of the facility’s disaster management plan, and it should include regular inspections and maintenance checks on fire suppression systems, sprinklers and alarms.