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In this lesson, we’re gonna take a look at fire and electrical safety.
I’m sure your first question when looking at this lesson is “Why are we looking at fire and electrical safety – I’m a nurse not a firefighter!” Truth is, it’s a safety issue and we need to keep our patients safe!
And when we talk about electrical safety, we want to focus on prevention. So look at things you can do to prevent electrical issues such as fires or equipment malfunction (like a pump not working). These are things like inspecting any equipment that your patient uses, or any machines you use for your patient like pumps or vents. Make sure you keep electrical equipment away from water.
What should you do if your patient gets shocked?
Unplug the equipment!
Also, if you see that your equipment looks damaged or isn’t working properly, tag it, remove it and let the people who need to know about it know. The last thing you want is your equipment malfunctioning and giving your patient the wrong dose or no dose at all. The other thing to do is check with your facility regarding what electrical items patients can bring into the room and use. Not everything is ok, so follow policy.
The other thing you’ll need to do too is know when to use red outlets and what they mean. Red outlets are connected to a backup generator in case of a power surge or outage. So any life saving equipment like ventilators or IV pumps with life-saving drugs need to always be plugged into a red outlet.
The best way to fight fires is to prevent them. You’ll want to check your equipment often, and be sure to report anything that’s expired, like your extinguisher to the right people. Also check outlets and plugs. If they look frayed or damaged, a) don’t use the equipment and b) report it immediately. That new vent you’re getting for your patient has a bad plug – you’d better switch that thing out.
Also, follow and enforce smoking policies. If you see people smoking in non-smoking areas, call them out and make them move. The last thing you want to be doing is dealing with a fire because some knucklehead decided to smoke too close to some equipment.
One other thing you can do is to make sure equipment doesn’t block doors. This just makes sure that people have a way out in the event of a fire. It’s also the law.
Does your patient ABSOLUTELY need oxygen? If not, then shut it off. Oxygen is flammable, so don’t give the fire an advantage. And by advantage, oxygen fuels fire, so it burns hotter and faster, and it’ll basically make a fire grow exponentially, and pose a much greater risk to everyone. Also, know where your oxygen shut off is – it’s commonly behind the nurses station. If you don’t know where it’s at, find out.
As nurses never really think about how fires impact what we do. But we really need to think about our patients when it comes to fire safety, and there are some things that you can do to protect yourself and your patients when it comes to fires. We use the acronym RACE, which stands for Rescue, Activate, Contain, and Extinguish.
The way to think of it is first to rescue your patients, or remove them from immediate danger. If you have a fire down the hallway that’s contained, close your patient’s door to keep smoke from coming in. You’ll also want to activate any alarms, like a fire alarm, or call for help or 911, depending on where you’re at. Next, contain the fire. This helps to keep the fire from spreading. You can do this by closing doors and putting wet towels at the base of the board.
The last thing you’ll need to think about is extinguishing the fire if you have the opportunity. We look at the acronym PASS when we do this. PASS stands for pull the pin, aim the nozzle, squeeze the trigger, and sweep the fire extinguisher from side to side over the fire. If the fire doesn’t go out when you do this, get yourself and your patients to safety if they’re not already there.
As always, let’s check out our nursing concepts. Fire and electrical safety focus on, you guessed it…safety!
Ok, so let’s recap:
When it comes to electrical safety, always inspect your equipment.
The best way to take care of fires is to prevent them.
Remember RACE when knowing what to do in the event of a fire. Take care of your patient first, then hit the alarm, contain the fire and extinguish it if possible.
PASS is the way you’d put out a fire. Grab the extinguisher, pull the pin, aim the nozzle, squeeze the trigger and sweep from side to side.
And finally, know where your oxygen shut off is for your patients in the event of a fire!
That’s our lesson on fire & electrical safety. Make sure you check out all the resources attached to this lesson. Now, go out and be your best selves today. And, as always, happy nursing!!