Anyone who has experienced an outbreak of fire in a care home will know that having staff who know exactly what to do when the alarm sounds can be the difference between life and death. Any hesitation, panic or uncertainty can mean that precious seconds are lost in responding to this most serious of situations.
Staff who are confident, well-drilled and are able to act swiftly can prevent fire spreading, remove residents from danger and reduce the risk of a small fire escalating to a nightmare scenario. Read on to find out how to make sure that your staff are ready if fire strikes.
5 Easy Steps to Life-saving Fire Drills
As a responsible care home owner or manager, you will understand the need to have a thorough and up-to-date fire risk assessment in place, to ensure your staff receive appropriate fire training and that you have suitable fire detection and fight fighting equipment in place. You will also maintain up-to-date records of fire safety checks and drills that you carry out. However, unless you make sure your drills are really effective, your staff may not be ready to put theory into action in a fire situation.
Follow these 5 Steps for Fire Drills that Ensure Calm in a Crisis
- Stick to your plan: ensure you have a fire outbreak plan that everyone knows, understands and follows. Make sure this is visible around your premises and particularly at the assembly point so that step-by-step guidance is available.
- Practice, practice, practice: your fire risk assessment will state how often staff should attend a fire drill but remember that this is the minimum rather than the ideal. Carry out a fire drill at least once a month to ensure that responding to an alarm becomes second nature.
- Challenge your staff: don’t just go through the motions – use every fire drill to challenge your staff with a new problem. As your team assemble, provide them with a realistic fire scenario to deal with and observe how they deal with it. Make sure that the drills cover fire outbreaks in every part of your building and at every time of day to ensure that you are prepared for any situation.
- Use your equipment: encourage staff to use your fire fighting and evacuation equipment. Handling equipment during a drill is an excellent way of learning how to use it in a crisis situation. You may not want to set off extinguishers but knowing where to find them and how to use them is essential and being familiar with evacuation equipment will ensure there is no hesitation if has to be used in a live situation.
- Provide feedback: always provide feedback about what went well and what could be improved at each fire drill. Use each drill as an opportunity to learn from and improve your response to an alarm.