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October is National Fire Prevention Month, and Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) is helping spread the knowledge of fire prevention on campus.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) creates simple steps for planning ahead. This year’s theme, Look. Listen. Learn. Be aware. Fire can happen anywhere, is targeted education on each important step of fire prevention.

Look for places fires can start. Listen for the sound of the smoke alarm. Learn two ways out of each room.

EHS has recommended procedures to follow when promoting fire safety. Rob Emmons, Campus Safety Manager at UAB, explains what this theme means for UAB.

“It’s important to practice fire safety in the work place but also to take the information home too,” Emmons said. “This knowledge is also effective for home and residence halls.”

In the workplace, make sure materials that are potentially combustible are discarded in a safe way. Smoke only in designated areas. If working in a lab, review all precautions and procedures. Emmons suggests changing smoke and heat detectors twice a year to stay prepared and to report any damaged emergency equipment.

For fire protection:

  • Have clear access to fire extinguishers.
  • Be aware of all exits available.
  • Know the evacuation drills.
  • Make sure all pathways are clear.
  • Don’t muffle or block alarms.

Also, buildings with or without sprinklers should have the correct distance between ceiling and stored materials. These are all helpful ways to prevent fires from spreading.

“Everyone should have an escape plan both at home and at work, in case of a fire emergency,” said Emmons.

Set up a home fire escape plan:

  • Know the exits.
  • Install fire alarms.
  • Have a meeting place outside.
  • Identify emergency contacts before a fire occurs.

For residence halls, students should locate fire escapes, appropriate staircases, and fire extinguishers. Also, students should have portable heaters approved by Student Housing and Residence Life. Heated lamps, candles, and other open flames are not permitted in the residence halls.

According to the Department of Homeland Security Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Acting Regional Director, Dennis Hunsinger said, “one out of three home fires start in the kitchen, leaving cooking unattended, and other unsafe kitchen practices are recipes for disaster.”

In the home, office, or residence halls, cooking appliances and heating equipment can be a host for fires. In many cases, this can be the leading cause for building fires and fire injuries. Cooking high heat foods should not be left unattended. Heating equipment should be installed by a qualified professional and should meet all required safety standards.

Know how to prevent fire emergencies and how to stay safe in the case of a fire emergency. Find more information and resources about this year’s Look. Listen. Learn. Be aware – fire can happen anywhere campaign, visit nfpa.org or contact Robert Emmons, at remmons@uab.edu.

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