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We know the health and safety of your residents is your top priority. Therefore, it’s essential that your facility has the proper fire safety precautions in place. According to USA Today, more than half of the nursing homes in the United States are in violation of federally-established standards for fire safety. The newspaper reports that inspectors often ignore major safety deficiencies, even in facilities that had a fire in the last five years. In addition, government inspectors tend to overlook these indiscretions by failing to impose penalties on facilities that do not have the proper sprinkler and alarm systems in place.
Without a sufficient fire safety program, you’re exposing your organization to huge losses and lawsuits that could potentially bankrupt your business. There are two key measures a nursing home can take to establish a sound fire safety program: installing a sprinkler system and establishing a fire safety program. Although a sprinkler system can be purchased, a fire safety program takes a lot more time and effort. If you don’t already have an adequate plan in place, consider the following evacuation procedures and training specific to the senior living industry.
Determine procedures and provide employees with specific instructions in the event that they discover a fire or hear a fire alarm. This information should be clearly posted for staff members and should also be part of your employee handbook. The procedural information should include the following:
- Appropriate actions when discovering a fire
- Guidelines for removing residents from the area affected by the fire
- Explanations for how to activate the alarm
- Guidelines for how to exit the building while assisting residents
- Instructions for how to greet fire department staff
- Directions for where to take firefighters in the building while residents are being evacuated
- Instructions for how to safely remove feeding tubes, IVs, catheter drains and ventilators before evacuating residents and how to continue these functions in another designated area
Staff Training and Drills
In order for staff members to understand the proper procedures and have the ability to perform them quickly, the facility must conduct thorough staff training and periodic fire drills. On a frequent basis, supervisors — such as department heads and charge nurses — should conduct fire drills. While doing so, each department can determine how well the employees are prepared in the event of an actual fire. From there, each department can conduct additional training in areas that need improving.
A solid fire prevention plan eliminates your risk of penalties from the government, lowers your risk of negligence lawsuits, protects your building and your business, keeps your residents safe and is a major selling point for prospective residents and their families. With the appropriate technology and procedures in place, you can ensure your facility is prepared in the event of a fire and avoid a catastrophic situation.
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