Is it Bad to Inhale Fire Extinguisher Residue Dust?

Recently, I spoke with a lady who had the unfortunate experience of a kitchen fire occurring in her home. Luckily for her, they had a portable fire extinguisher in the kitchen and knew how to use it.

After the fire, they were faced with the issue of safely cleaning up the fire extinguisher residue. One such question was the dangers of inhaling the fire extinguisher residue dust.

So, is it bad to inhale fire extinguisher residue dust? Moderately yes. The dry chemical powder in standard ABC class fire extinguishers and others will irritate the respiratory system if it is inhaled making breathing difficult.

Before you go calling an extremely expensive cleaning crew to come in and clean up the extinguishing powder, it would be helpful to know what type of fire extinguisher was used to extinguish the fire and what personal protective equipment (PPE) is needed to clean up the mess yourself. 

The Type of Fire Extinguisher Used Matters

There are different types of fire extinguishers on the market today. An understanding of the different types of fire extinguishers and the agents used to extinguish the fires is important. This information will help determine the level of harm that could be experienced if exposure to the agent occurs, as well as the best methods for proper cleanup.

Class ABC Fire Extinguishers

This is the most common fire extinguisher on the market, used in both residential and commercial settings. The extinguishing agent used is monoammonium phosphate. Monoammonium phosphate is considered an irritant to the respiratory system and therefore indicates that you should use proper personal protective equipment to protect yourself during clean up.

Class BC Fire Extinguishers

Designed to extinguish Class B and Class C fires, the BC fire extinguishers use Sodium Bicarbonate as their extinguishing agent. The agent is in a powder form and can also irritate the respiratory system if exposure occurs and you do not have the proper personal protective equipment.

Class K (Purple K) Fire Extinguishers

Class K fire extinguishers use a blend of potassium acetate and potassium citrate forming what is known as a potassium bicarbonate-based agent. This too is a dry chemical powder and will irritate the respiratory system if exposure results you do not have the proper personal protective equipment.

Halotron and Carbon Dioxide Fire Extinguishers

Halotron I and II, and Carbon Dioxide fire extinguishers are designed to be used on sensitive electrical equipment and are known “clean agent” fire extinguishers. They are known as “clean agent” extinguishers because they leave no residue/powder behind after the fire extinguisher has been discharged in suppressing the fire, but rather the agent dissipates into the air and no clean-up process is required. The residue of other discharged fire extinguishers can corrode and damage sensitive electrical equipment and are therefore not recommended for use on these types of fires.

How to Safely Clean Up After Using a Fire Extinguisher

If you have discharged a dry chemical fire extinguisher and are now preparing to engage in the clean up process, read our other article titled, “How to Safely Clean Up Dry Chemical Fire Extinguisher Residue”.  The article details the steps and guidelines to properly and safely clean up the residue powder left behind from the extinguishment, as well as the necessary Personal Protective Equipment that may be recommended to protect yourselves from inhaling the powder, or from experiencing exposure to your skin or eyes.

 

How to Properly Cleanup After a Fire Extinguisher Discharge

How to Properly Cleanup After a Fire Extinguisher Discharge

Amerex 589 Fire Extinguisher - Dry Chemical High Performance Compliance FlowThe fire extinguisher is a marvelous invention, and its use in successfully combating a fire before it spreads out of control is a major triumph. Also important after extinguishing the fire is properly cleaning up the fire extinguishment residue and taking the appropriate personal precautions in the process.

How to Safely Clean Up Dry Chemical Fire Extinguisher Residue

The extinguishing agents (sodium bicarbonate, monoammonium phosphate, potassium bicarbonate) used in dry chemical fire extinguishers leave a corrosive powdery residue that can corrode metal surfaces if left in contact for very long and should be cleaned up as soon as possible.

Recommended cleaning strategies:

  • Any loose debris/product should be initially swept or vacuumed up to minimize dust and to reduce the amount of interventive solutions that will need to be used. The residue should then be placed in a bag for disposal.
  • Residue that has hardened and adhered to surfaces should be sprayed with a 50/50 solution of warm water and isopropyl alcohol. Let the solution sit on the hardened residue for a few minutes to allow it to dissolve, then thoroughly wipe it away with a damp material such as a cloth or towel.
  • To neutralize sodium bicarbonate and potassium bicarbonate residue, make a solution consisting of 98% hot water and 2% vinegar, apply it to the residue, and let it sit for a few minutes before wiping it away with a damp material such as a cloth or towel.
  • To neutralize monoammonium phosphate residue, make a paste by mixing baking soda with hot water, and let it sit for a few minutes before wiping it away with a damp material such as a cloth or towel.
  • A final cleaning with soap and water of all exposed surfaces, including any items to be used like cookware, should be conducted followed by a proper rinsing and drying.

Personal Protection Measures:

Because the fire extinguishment residue is a moderate irritant to the respiratory system and eyes, and a mild irritant to skin, precaution should be made to avoid eye, respiratory, and skin exposure. The use of personal protective equipment (goggles, face mask, and latex gloves) may be warranted, especially if dust is created or exposure is lengthy and/or in a confined space.

First Aid Measures:

Should exposure to the extinguishment residue occur:

  • Skin Exposure: Wash skin with soap and water. If a significant skin reaction occurs, seek medical attention.
  • Eye Exposure: Flush eyes with water until pain-free. If irritation returns or persists after exposure, seek medical attention.
  • Inhalation: Remove the person from the area into fresh air. If irritation or shortness of breath continues, seek medical attention.

cleaning up a fire extinguisher dischargeHow to Safely Clean Up Class K Chemical Fire Extinguisher Residue

Purple K dry chemical fire extinguishers with a potassium bicarbonate-based agent are used to combat fires where flammable fires my occur such as in industrial kitchens. The extinguishing agent is discharged as a mist to cool cooking surfaces and extinguish the flames. All cooking surfaces and cookware must be properly cleaned before being used again.

Recommended cleaning strategies:

  • With all power to the kitchen area shut off, use a sponge that has been submerged in a hot water and soap solution to clean the area and wipe away the residue.
  • All cookware, dishes, glasses, and utensils that have been covered with residue must also be wiped clean with the hot water and soap solution, and then washed as usual in a dishwashing machine.
  • Let all surfaces and cookware thoroughly dry before restoring electrical power.

Personal Protection Measures:

The fire extinguishment is considered a mild irritant to eyes, mucus membranes, and skin. Precaution should be made to avoid eye, respiratory, and skin exposure. The use of protective rubber gloves is recommended during clean up.

First Aid Measures:

Should exposure to the extinguishment residue occur:

  • Skin Exposure: Wash skin with soap and water. If irritation develops and persists, seek medical attention.
  • Eye Exposure: Flush eyes with water until pain-free. If irritation develops or persists, seek medical attention.
  • Inhalation: Remove the person from the area into fresh air. If irritation develops or persists, seek medical attention.
  • Ingestion: This unlikely exposure can be treated by giving 2-3 glasses of water to drink and induce vomiting.

How to Safely Clean Up Clean Agent (Halotron, Carbon Dioxide) Fire Extinguisher Residue

Capable of extinguishing Class A, B, and C fires with a clean, residue-free agent, Halotron and carbon dioxide is used to fight fires involving sensitive electronic equipment. There is no residue to clean up as the agent dissipates into the atmosphere. However, cleaning the areas affected with soap and water can help remove the smoky smell from the fire.

Common Questions:

Does the Brand of Fire Extinguisher residue matter?

Maybe. Manufactures of fire extinguishers provide Material Data Safety Sheets (MSDS) that list out the proper steps and guidelines for cleaning up their specific fire extinguisher agent. Additionally, the MSDS will provide the necessary safety requirements/guidelines to consider when dealing with their products. For your convenience, you can click HERE to view the different MSDS for the major fire extinguisher manufactures: Buckeye Fire, Badger, Amerex, Kidde, Ansul, and Pyro-Chem.

Ladder Inspection Checklist – and Why you Should do it!

Ladder Inspection Checklist – and Why you Should do it!

Step laddersIn a previous article titled, “Why Do People Fall from Ladders and How to Prevent It”,  I mentioned an experience I had a few years ago where I fell off a ladder because the ladder was damaged. Had I inspected the ladder before I used it, I would never have used the ladder in the first place. Inspecting a ladder only takes a minute or so and could possibly save you from injury or even death.

Each of the following items should be checked on a ladder before using it:

  • Ladder rungs (steps)
  • Ladder bolts, screws or attachment parts
  • General Rust or decay
  • Weakened or damaged areas
  • Cracks or splits
  • Twisted or distorted rails
  • Instruction/Safety stickers.
  • Ladder accessories and attachment parts

To better understand the importance of each of these items, let’s take a look at them each individually.

Ladder Rungs (steps)

The first thing to look for are any bent, missing, or otherwise broken rungs. Using a ladder that has a missing or damaged rung is extremely dangerous. If the ladder has a missing or damaged rung it should be thrown away.

Warn out ladder rungs is another common problem that can occur with well-used ladders.  Metal ladders have rungs with grooves or ridges on each rung to help with gripping. Over time, the grooves get worn down and don’t provide the traction/grip as it should to ensure your safety. If this is the case, it’s time to get a new ladder!

Ladder Bolts, Screws or Attachment Parts

Ladders are made up of several different parts and components connected together by bolts and screws. Before using a ladder of any kind, look it over for any loose/missing bolts or screws. Try opening and closing the ladder (step ladder) or extending/retracting the ladder (extension ladders) to see if the ladder operates as it should. Stand the ladder up and shake the ladder with your hand. This will help you identify any loose or missing bolts and/or screws.

If the ladder is missing a screw or bolt, take it to a professional repair shop or consider getting a new ladder. Ladders are put together using specific bolts or screws that are designed specifically for the ladder. The wrong kind or size of bolt will not allow the ladder to operate correctly and may not support you when you are using the ladder.

Some ladders are equipped with accessories or have the capability to add accessories to the ladder. If the ladder accessory is damaged or missing a bolt, discard it.

Rust or Decay

While it depends on the amount of rust or decay, a rusty metal ladder or a wooden ladder with decaying wood is a sign of a damaged ladder that should not be used. When reviewing any ladder that has rust or decay occurring on the ladder, especially on the rungs or key parts of the ladder I suggest erroring on the safe side and getting a new ladder.

Weakened or Damaged Areas

Ladders that have been left outside in the rain, snow or blistering sun may develop weakened areas in the ladder. This may be hard to notice and inspect.

For metal ladders, use the palm of your hands to push on the metal while feeling for areas that are not solid or that “pop” in and out with pressure. For wooden ladders, feel for soft areas (with the palm of your hands) that when pushed in, create an indent or impression. This is a sign of water damage and compromises the integrity and strength of the ladder.

Cracks or Splits

Cracks or splits on any type of ladder, regardless of the size, should be discarded and not used. It may be tempting to use a ladder that has a small crack on it. However, your weight will only make the crack bigger and less safe.

Twisted or Distorted Rails

Extension ladders, if not taken care of, can bend and twist along the sliding rails. It is important to inspect the rails as most of the ladder’s support is depended on the rails. You may not always notice if the rails are bent or damaged unless you are specifically looking for it.

For badly damaged rails, discard the ladder immediately. Otherwise, you will want to keep an eye on all slight and minor damages to the rail to ensure that they do not become worse with use.

OSHA Ladder StickerInstruction/Safety Stickers.

All ladders are sold with safety stickers on the sides. They include the following information:
– If the ladder is OSHA approved or not
– Ladder height
– Set up/take down instructions
– Load capacity
– Where the ladder is made (USA. China, etc)
– The ladder’s highest standing level for safety
– What the ladder is made of
– Whether the ladder is made for commercial or residential use
– Ladder checklist (for that particular ladder)
– How to care and store the ladder
– Proper use of the ladder.

Ladder Accessories and Attachments Parts

Depending on the ladder, it can be equipped with some additional accessories for various projects. If you are using an attachment or accessory with you ladder you need to do two main things:

  • Ensure that the accessory is designed to be used with the ladder you are using.
  • Inspect the accessory to ensure that it has not be damaged and is still in good working order.

For Example:

Werner ladders are great for both the professional and the DIY homeowner. One accessory that they make is the AC78 Quickclick Stabilizer. It is designed to allow ladders to be placed in front of a window by attaching bars that rest on the side of the window. This allows the user to wash the window or paint the window trim without adding pressure to the glass window.

There are several other ladder accessories on the market. For your own safety, it is important to inspect them before using them.

Common Questions

When Should you Inspect a ladder or ladder accessory?

Ladders should be inspected:

  • At the beginning and end of a season
  • Before you purchase a ladder
  • When given a ladder
  • Before each use
  • If the ladder has been tipped over, fallen or dropped

How can you make your Ladder last longer?

  • Properly store your ladder
  • Apply a protective coat on wooden ladders (sealer, wax or other wood preservative)
  • Clean fiberglass ladders with clear lacquer or paste wax every 3 months
  • Oil or lubricate any pulleys on extension ladders
  • Handle the ladder with care when opening/closing step ladders

Can I fix the ladder myself?

NO! Never attempt to repair a broken or bent ladders. Ladders that are missing bolts or other connective items should be repaired by a licensed professional.

Why Do People Fall from Ladders and How to Prevent it

I’ve used a ladder several times over the last decade while doing projects around the house or on one of my rental units. I have only fallen once. Luckily, it was a small, simple fall that bruised my ego more than my body. That is not the case for everyone who has fallen from a ladder.

There are five main reasons why people fall from ladders. They are:
1- Poor ladder setup (angle)
2- Incorrect ladder for the job.
3- Using a damaged ladder
4- Using the ladder incorrectly
5- Lack of ladder safety understanding

Thousands of people are injured, and some killed from ladder falls. Most of these ladder falls can be attributed to one of the five reasons listed above. To better understand how someone would fall from a ladder and how to prevent it, continue reading the article below.

Poor Ladder Setup

Poor ladder setup can involve a few things, or rather, “not” involve a few things. Some things to be aware of when setting up a ladder are:
1- Ladder Angle
2- Ladder Base surface
3- Environmental conditions (snow, rain, wind)

I was watching my neighbor work on the outside of his house in the rain this morning. He was “on the go” getting stuff done with his ladder when all of a sudden the bottom of the ladder slipped out from under him. It was clear to me that this happened because the ladder was set up too far away from the wall that he had placed the ladder against. Lucky for him, he was able to land on his feet. After this, he was much more mindful of the angle that he placed the ladder.

The angle of the ladder set up is probably the most common reason why people fall from ladders. Whenever you set up a ladder, it is important that you follow the 4 to 1 rule which you can read HERE. This rule is designed to ensure proper ladder setup.

Perhaps if the cement surface wasn’t wet and slippery, the ladder would have stayed put. Loose gravel, smooth/wet surfaces, and soft foundations (mud) are extremely unstable areas to set up a ladder.

If you need to use the ladder in any of these conditions, it is important that you have a support partner who can stand at the base of the ladder and ensure that the ladder doesn’t slip and cause you to fall.

Incorrect Ladder for the Job

I am guilty of this…For a long time, I only had one ladder. I used this ladder for every job I had. Often times this would require that I rig up the ladder in some creative fashion to get the job done. This is certainly not a safe practice. Use the correct ladder for the job.

For example:
Using a folding A-frame step ladder as an extension ladder by leaning it against the side of the wall instead of opening it up and locking the support bars as it is designed to is extremely dangerous and runs the risk of slipping out from under the user even if they follow the “4-to-1 rule” because the ladder is not designed to be used that way.

Damaged LadderUsing a Damaged Ladder

When I bought my first rental unit over a decade ago, I found a ladder under the house (crawl space). I decided to inspect the roof and rain gutters. I set up the ladder following the 4-to-1 rule and began to climb the ladder. About half way up, one of the rungs (steps) broke in half. Luckily my other foot was still planted on the lower rung and I didn’t fall.

Using a broken ladder is another common reason why people fall from ladders. Before using a ladder, it is important to inspect it for any damaged or weakened parts. To learn more about how and why to inspect a ladder, read our other article titled: “Ladder Inspection Safety Checklist

Using the Ladder Incorrectly

Just because you are using the correct ladder for the job, following the 4-to-1 rule, it is still possible to use the ladder incorrectly. For example, wearing shoes that have little to no grip on them can be very dangerous, along with carrying heavy items up and down the ladder, or not correctly holding onto the ladder bars.

While these are minor issues, they are extremely common reason why people fall from ladders.

Lack of Ladder safety UnderstandingLadder

While you could say that the above four (4) reasons could all fit under this one, I decided to separate it because knowledge and understanding is the best safety tool anyone can have, especially when using a tool such as a ladder. Make sure you understand the kind and type of ladder you own and make sure to maintain it properly. Having an understanding of your kind of ladder and why people in general fall from ladders is the first step in preventing yourself from falling when using a ladder.

Next time you are using your ladder, be sure to set up the ladder properly (4-to-1 rules), use the correct ladder for the job, inspect the ladder for any damage or weakened parts and use common sense when using the ladder.

Hopefully, this has been helpful for you! Let us know in the comments section below if you have ever fallen from a ladder and what you learned from it!

22 Things You Should Never do When Using a Ladder – Ever

 

Recently I wrote an article about the ladder 4 to 1 Rule, which you can read HERE, a helpful guideline for properly using a ladder in providing common sense ladder safety in the prevention of falls from the ladder. Simply following the 4 to 1 rule won’t guarantee your safety, but used in conjunction with these 22 other “never do when using a ladder” common sense strategies should greatly reduce the risk of falls and other ladder mishaps.

  • Leave a ladder unattended
  • Use during poor weather conditions
  • Climb on the non-rung side of a step ladder
  • Use a broken ladder
  • Shuffle, slide, or shake the ladder to move it
  • Pull or push on an object
  • Use the wrong type of ladder for the job
  • Stand on the top of the ladder
  • Drop, throw, or tip over a Ladder
  • Poorly place the ladder when in Use
  • Lean beyond the edge of the ladder
  • Use it as a bridge, shelf, or any other non-ladder purpose task
  • Tie two or more ladders together to make it longer
  • Exceed the maximum weight for the ladder
  • Slide down the ladder’s edge
  • Skip steps/rungs
  • Climb the ladder with wet or slick shoes
  • Use uncertified accessories
  • Sit on or face backwards of the ladder
  • Carry heavy items up or down the ladder
  • Catching an item thrown up to you
  • Goof off or play around while up on the ladder

 

To better understand why we shouldn’t do these things listed above, let’s take a look at each one in detail. Hopefully, after reading this article, you’ll be better prepared for safety the next time you pull out the ladder to do a home project.

  • Leave a ladder unattended

Leaving a ladder unattended is an accident waiting to happen. Just the other day, while my family and I were out for a family drive looking at some of the new homes being developed in the area, I noticed that the workers at one particular job site had left their ladder up against the partially framed house after a long day’s work. It could be very easy and tempting for a child or adult, to climb up to look around, unaware of any unseen danger.

Once you are done using the ladder, put it away. Not just laid down on the ground, but properly stored away to prevent its use.

  • Use under poor weather conditions

Avoid using the ladder in poor weather conditions such as the rain, snow, or wind. Any one of these environmental conditions can increase the likelihood of an accident occurring.

Most ladders are made of metal and are extremely slippery when wet (rain or snow) and strong winds can push over any ladder.

Note: If you do HAVE to climb up the ladder in poor weather conditions, make sure to take every safety precaution possible.

For example:

  • Have a person holding onto the base of the ladder for better support
  • Use good gripping shoes
  • Use two hands while going up or down the ladder
  • Use PPE
  • Climb on the non-rung side of a step ladder

Some step ladders have rungs or steps on both sides of the “A-Frame” design and others only have rungs/steps on one side with support bars on the other side. The support bars are not designed for a person to climb on or to handle weight directly on them.

To prevent the ladder from being damaged and compromising the design of the ladder, you should only use the step/rungs side of any ladder.

  • Use a broken ladder

Never use a broken ladder for any reason, even if it is “real quick”. A bent or broken ladder should be discarded immediately. In fact, inspecting the ladder before using it is part of the ladders pre-use checklist which you can read about HERE.

  • Shuffle, slide, or shake the ladder to move it

We’ve all been there, right – up on a ladder doing a project, whether for your home or on the job site, and you need to move the ladder over just a few inches to finish the job. You quickly assess the amount of time it will take you to climb down, move the ladder over, and climb back up, and compare that to simply performing a quick little shuffle or slide the ladder over while you skillfully hold on at the top.

Not surprisingly this is one of the major reasons why people fall from ladders. Always take the time to climb down and properly move the ladder over so that it is erected straight up and on even ground. If you would like to learn more about the major reasons why falls occur on ladders, read our other article titled, “Why People Fall from Ladders and How to Prevent Them

  • Pull or push on an object

While standing on the ladder, it can be extremely dangerous to try and push or pull on an object, regardless if it is big or small. The reason for this is because you don’t have the ability to brace yourself and counteract the force like you would if you were standing on the ground.

Remember, you are only as stable as the ladder.

  • Use the wrong type of ladder for the job

A friend of mine has a lightbulb that needs to be replaced in a living room that has a 20-foot ceiling. When I asked him how he was planning on replacing the lightbulb, he said smiling, “Oh easily, I have a 15-foot ladder and I’m 6 foot”.

I quickly pointed out that ladders are not designed for the person to stand on the very top. The warning label on most ladders says to never ascend beyond the last step before the top of the ladder.

  • Stand on the top of the ladder

I think I answered this in the point above. This too is one of the major reason why people fall from ladders which is mentioned in our other article. Your balance is even more compromised and you have absolutely nothing to brace against.

  • Drop, throw, or tip over a Ladder
    This is extremely dangerous. Not only could this compromise the ladders effectiveness and preparedness for the next time you need to use the ladder, but could also injure someone below – dashing around a corner catching you by surprise.

    Once you are done using the ladder, carefully take it down and put it away so that it doesn’t get knocked or blown over.

  • Poorly place the ladder when in Use
    Sometimes the ground will not be level can make the ladder lean to one side. If this is the case, do not climb the ladder. Rather, find a new place to set up the ladder where the ground is level and safe to climb.
  • Use a step ladder or an extension ladder incorrectly

Never use a ladder that isn’t set up correctly. Step ladders must be fully folded out and the locks in place to prevent them from collapsing. Likewise, extension ladders must be locked in place to prevent it from sliding back down when in use.

  • Tie two or more ladders together to make it longer
    Let’s say you have a wall that is 20 feet high and you only have two 10-foot ladders. Which of the following should you do:
    A- Rent or buy a 20+ foot ladder
    B- Skillfully tie the two ladders together to make a 20-foot ladder

If you chose option B, I worry about you! Ladders are not designed to be tied together even though we may see the feat performed on YouTube fails compilation. This is certainly an accident waiting to happen.

  • Exceed the maximum weight for the ladder

Ladders are designed to carry a certain amount of weight and not more. The person using the ladder plus all of his or her tools must not exceed the manufacturers recommended weight limit.

The weight limit will be shown on the side of the ladder. Exceeding this limit may damage the ladder and could put you at risk of injury.

  • Slide down the ladder’s edge

I can remember watching a movie were one of the actors, a fireman, quickly slid down the ladder by placing his feet on the outsides of the ladder, his hands holding firmly onto the side while he slid down the ladder. I can remember thinking it would be cool to try.

Luckily I never did. While this looks fun, it can be dangerous. Especially if your fingers were to get caught on the side or you slip from a significant height.

  • Skip steps/rungs
    It can be annoying going up and down the ladder while working on a project, especially if you have to do it several times or are in a big hurry. It may be tempting to skip a step or two to save time.

    Never Skip a ladder rung or step regardless of how much of a hurry you are in. It can compromise your balance and potentially lead to an accident.

  • Climb the ladder with wet or slick shoes
    This should be obvious, having wet or slick shoes can cause you to slip and fall while using the ladder. It’s best to have good gripping shoes. Shoes with a good grip on them will enhance your grip and hopefully help the efficiency of your climb.
  • Use uncertified accessories
    There are a lot of products on the market that you can add to your ladder to make a job easier. However, each of these products have undergone a series of tests to ensure that they will not interfere with the ladders functions and the safety of the user.

    This means rigging up your own paint holder to the extensions ladder might not be the best idea.

  • Sit on or face backward of the ladder
    You should not use a rung/step of a ladder for a perch location. Not only is this uncomfortable, but can be dangerous. Without your hands holding onto the side of the ladder, there is only one way you can go if you slip – and that’s down.
  • Carry heavy items up or down the ladder
    Carrying a heavy 5-gallon paint bucket up the ladder can be dangerous. This not only shifts your balance, but also prevents you from holding onto the ladder with two hands.

    Remember, there must always be at least three points of contact when going up or down a ladder -2 hands with 1 foot, or 1 hand with 2 feet.

  • Catching an item thrown up to you
    While using a ladder, you need to be focused on what your doing of the task at hand. Trying to catch a tool that has been thrown up to you will temporarily shift your focus from balancing on the ladder to catching the wrench.
  • Goofing off or play around while up on the ladder
    A fall from a ladder can have serious consequences of injury or even death. This is not the place to act silly or play around. People who have become too comfortable with using a ladder because they have been using one their whole lives are at the greatest risk of ignoring all the safety rules of proper ladder usage.

What are the Tools That are Carried in EMS Pants?

What are the Tools That are Carried in EMS Pants

You would think that this would be an easy question to answer with a basic industry standard list. However, EMT’s and Paramedics have personal preferences that their particular job experience has necessarily biased them towards, and you have to also consider that these first responder professionals have their equipment bags that will hold many of the essential medical supplies they may need. Consequently, any list of essential tools to be carried will undoubtedly have common items, while other tools may or may not be considered as “essential to carry on person” from one EMS professional to another. Nonetheless, considering that there is no time to waste in an emergency situation, quick and easy access to those items needed immediately when working on the patient must be able to be instinctively retrieved from the clothing the EMS personnel is wearing.

So, what are the tools that should be carried in the multi-pocketed EMS cargo pants? The essential EMS tools that should be carried in EMS cargo pants are:

  • Gloves and spares. These items may be in a glove pouch
  • Pens & sharpies. At least two of each
  • Pen light
  • Small but effective flashlight
  • Cellphone and charger
  • Personal items – wallet, keys (often in the hip pocket)
  • Rescue hooks
  • Trauma shears
  • Note pad or 3x5 cards
  • Rescue Knife or folding multi-tool
  • Window punch (glass breaker pen)
  • Belt cutter

 

As previously mentioned, this list may or may not be completely common among all EMS personnel depending on their unique circumstances and preferences. It may include items that some personnel prefer to carry in their EMS shirt or EMS bag. And, it certainly may be considered as missing key items that they feel should be included. So, what are some additional items that could also be carried in EMS pants, or possibly EMS shirt, or even the professional’s belt or EMS bag, for quick access.

  • Stethoscope
  • CPR face shield
  • Gauze pads & bandages (sometimes for the Paramedic or EMT)
  • Medical tape
  • Syringe
  • Vomit bag
  • Handwipes and sanitizer
  • Leather gloves
  • Chapstick
  • Walkie-talkie
  • When you need to see in the dark and have your hands free to work with

 

If you know several EMS professionals and were to talk to them about what they specifically carry in their EMS pants or EMS shirt, you would undoubtedly find some common essential tools they all carry in their EMS pants. And undoubtedly you would also learn of different tools that some find essential to have on their person when working with a patient, while others prefer those items be kept in their EMS bag. Additionally, you might learn that some EMS professionals use the same tool for different purposes. For example, some practitioners may use a knife only for removing the cap of saline bottles. Some don’t carry a knife or belt cutter because they will use the shears when something needs to be cut. These professionals will find a way to use the tools available to their advantage in getting the job done. I even know EMT’s that make sure their side pockets contain granola bars to fuel their on-the-go workstyle.

 

What makes EMS pants unique?

In order to carry this large number of essential tools for ready access, EMS pants must have multiple pockets and they must be properly positioned on the pants with access points that allow the Paramedic or EMT to instinctively and conveniently reach and secure them.

Good quality EMS pants must be made durable as they will be used frequently and put through vigorous and often unpredictable work settings. Some pants are constructed with ripstop materials to help prevent the transition of a small tear to a larger one. The pants may include a gusseted crotch and reinforced knees that help with both mobility and durability. Most pants are water resistant.

EMS pants are made of superior blend of polyester and cotton for added comfort, mobility and flexibility in movement, and extra breathability. Some pants may be treated with Teon fabric protector to help keep them clean and professional looking.

Because the EMS environment is one where blood borne pathogens can be present, EMS pants should be blood born pathogen resistant.

All of these requirements for a good pair of EMS pants means that they should be comfortable to wear, functional in housing of essential emergency tools and allowing for the mobility and flexibility in movement required for the required positions of EMS work, and durable to withstand the environmental elements and rigors of the Paramedic and EMT.

 

 

What is the 4 to 1 Rule When Using a Ladder?

What is the 4 to 1 Rule When Using a Ladder?

What is the 4 to 1 Rule When Using a Ladder? The other day I had to get up on the roof of my house to retrieve a whiffle ball that was hit up there during one of our many side yard whiffle ball games. While getting my ladder out of the shed and placing it against the edge of the house, I contemplated what is the best distance from the house to place the base of the ladder to ensure the best stability and help ensure that I was safe from falling while going up and down the ladder.

So, what is the 4 to 1 rule when using a ladder? For every four (4) feet of height you have to climb, move the base one (1) foot away from the wall that the ladder is resting against.

While this tip applies specifically to extension ladders, it is great for those of us who only use a ladder a few times a year for things like Christmas decorations, gutter maintenance and retrieving the occasional ball that ends up on the roof.

Why the 4 to 1 rule?

The 4 to 1 rule prevents a ladder from being placed to close or too far away from the wall in which it is placed against. By following the 4 to 1 ladder rule, the user ensures that the ladder is placed in such a way that maximizes balance and stability, helping to prevent it from tipping backwards or to the sides. As a result, accidents are less likely to occur when a ladder is placed properly against the wall and on sure ground.

Ladder Injuries

Injuries from falling from adders can be a serious or even prove fatal. According to the National Safety Council, roughly 500,000 people fall from a ladder every year in the United States and roughly 90,000 people visit the ER as a result of these falls.

Types of ladders

There are a variety of ladders on the market to choose from with each ladder type serving a specific purpose. Some of the more common types of ladders are:

1- Step Ladder

  • Most common type of ladder used
  • Self-supporting – “A-Frame”
  • Two main types of step ladders
    1- Rungs or steps on one side of step ladder and support bars on the other side
    2- Rungs or steps on both sides of the step ladder ‘A-Frame’

2- Extension Ladder

  • Straight ladder that extends upward making the ladder longer to reach higher
  • Requires the ladder to be placed against another object or wall
  • Can reach higher places han most step ladders
  • Comprised of two parts:
    The Base – The part of the ladder that is placed on the ground
    The Fly – The part that extends upward

3- Platform Ladder

  • Similar to a step ladder – the platform ladder has a platform at the top of the ladder
  • Built in rail on the platform
  • Allows the user to stand at the top of the ladder
  • Used in construction, airports, and other businesses where workers need to work in elevated places

4- Step Stool

  • Found in most home bathrooms and kitchens
  • Usually only has 1-2 steps
  • Used to help you get something that is just out of reach
  • Easy for kids to use

5- Multi-purpose Ladder

  • Defined as a ladder that can accomplish the tasks of two or more ladder’s
  • Most often used at construction sites
  • Highly versatile
  • Designed to extend or fold

6- Telescoping Ladder

  • Main feature is the ability to collapse into a variety of different lengths
  • Telescopes in and out
  • Highly compact
  • Highly portable
  • Favored by house painters
  • Most often used at construction sites

7- Folding Ladder

  • Shorter ladder
  • Larger steps
  • Folds up flat
  • Portable
  • Often found in the home
  • Used for small projects

9 Best Safety Tips for Cooking in the Kitchen – Men’s Edition!

9 Best Safety Tips for Cooking in the Kitchen – Men’s Edition!

So, my wife is out of town for the next week and a half visiting family. While my wife did leave some meals in the fridge to help me get through the next few days, I’m afraid I’ll have to venture into the kitchen to find and cook up some food eventually! So naturally, the first thing I, said male, did was research some safety tips for cooking in the kitchen! It’s amazing what you can find on the Internet.

So, what are the best safety tips for (men) cooking in the kitchen?

  • Know how to use a fire extinguisher – PASS
  • Wear the appropriate clothing
  • Wash your hands
  • Use the correct tools – knives!
  • Use the appropriate footwear
  • Technique matters – (stirring and mixing)
  • Know certain do’s and don’ts
  • Know when to asks for help – 911
  • First Aid Kit – A must!

How to use a fire extinguisher – PASS

For us men, it’s not ‘IF’ but rather ‘WHEN’ a fire will break out while you are attempting to cook the tried and proven staple of Top Roman. Therefore, logic indicates that we need to know how to operate the fire extinguisher and when to use it! Because we men (like how I lumped you in with me😊) don’t want to be burdened with the reading of instructions, we should at least take a few minutes before any attempt at cooking to learn how to properly extinguish a fire. Of course, this must be done privately where no one else can witness our efforts.

I have written a simple article titled, “How to Operate a Fire Extinguisher – PASS” and you guessed it, it has pictures explaining each step, so you don’t have to read the whole article. Cool, huh? So, in my efforts to save you some time, I have summarized the article below.

P – Pull Pin
A – Aim Low at the base of the fire
S – Squeeze the lever
S – Sweep from side to side

Wear appropriate clothing

You can think of this as your Personal Protective Equipment or PPE. Cooking in our underwear is not advised! Nor is it a good idea to wear clothing that is loose or baggy. If OSHA guidelines were to be applied to the kitchen, they wouldn’t allow it either!

Cloths that are loose or baggy can pose a risk for injury! For example, you turn to get an item out of the fridge and the free-flowing tail of your shirt catches the handle of the pot with boiling water in it and spills it onto you. Not good and may even result in a joy ride to the hospital.

Need another example? Let’s say that you are baking that pre-made casserole that your wife left for you in the freezer. You preheat the oven to 325 degrees as directed and go to place it in the oven. As you do so, you notice the un-buttoned sleeves of your shirt hanging down catch fire when they contact the hot coils.

You may want to invest in a nice fire-retardant shirt such as the one to the left I found on Amazon. Otherwise, you may have to consider buttoning your sleeves and wearing an apron like the ladies do. Your choice.

Wash your hands

I totally understand that some men may find this safety tip to be a bit invasive – but yes, you need to wash your hands to prevent the oil and grease on your hands (from the time you spent working on your car) from getting on your food!

If you are working with raw meat, it is extremely important that you wash your hands and avoid touching things around the house until your hands have been thoroughly cleaned. Failing to do so could possibly lead to food poisoning, an experience not worth trying or risking.

If you still have questions about this, I would suggest you read our other article titled, “How to Properly Wash Your Hands and Why

Use the correct tools – knives!

Before you pull out your Swiss army knife and cut up the meat and vegetables, consider this simple and easy to understand safety tip – A sharp knife is safer than a dull knife. Additionally, choosing the best knife for the job is just as important as the knife to use.

For more information about knives and how to use them, read our other article titled, “How to Use Knives Safely and Properly

Use the appropriate footwear

This is a safety tip that could have be placed with PPE, but I felt it was worth mentioning separately! Meal prep is mostly done on a countertop. If you’re like me, you really like to get into your work – similar to how Mrs. Doubtfire vacuums – and meal prep is serious business. The possibility that some things will fall to the floor during the intense activity of meal prep is a legitimate concern for the male cook. Whether it be a falling large glass bowl, a meat cleaver, or other heavy item that could cause serious foot trauma due to impact forces, or a sharp knife with the potential to penetrate, your feet that are so vital in transporting you around need to be protected. Seems to me like nothing less than some steel toe boots should be used by a real man when cooking in the kitchen.

If you’re looking for a great birthday, anniversary or Christmas present for your wife then look no further! Below are some great steel toe boots I found on Amazon that would make the perfect gift for your wife as I’m sure she wouldn’t mind sharing them with you when the high-risk experience of cooking is forced upon you!

Technique matters – (stirring and mixing)

Remember the movie karate kid? Of course, you do! This is a MEN’s blog post after all! Anyways, that moment when the master is teaching the student the fundamentals of karate and has him wash and wax his car – “Wax on…Wax off”.  He teaches him to do so in a motion that sends the movement away from his body, deflecting any incoming punch. You must do the same when cooking! Always stir or mix using the wax on wax off method! This will prevent any hot water, soup or anything else you may be cooking from getting splashed on you, and in the process, you will be honing your personal defense skills that we are often called upon to use because of the adventurous life that we lead.

Know certain do’s and don’ts

There are some things you just don’t do when your cooking. For example, you never place a hot pan or pot on Formica countertops as it will melt the Formica and may even start a fire. See why the PASS Technique was previously mentioned. Some additional do’s and don’ts are:

  • Don’t place a hot glass pan in cold water. This will cause the glass to crack. The Mrs., well they don’t like it when that happens.
  • Don’t Leave the oven on after cooking is all done. Less of a problem in the dead of winter, but not the way to heat your house.
  • Do clean up after cooking, including the work area to kill any germs or bacteria that may be present. Also, leave a mess and you are bound to catch the wrath.
  • Do cook meat fully. I know, in the movie Dances with Wolves the heart of a bison was eaten raw as part of a celebratory experience for success. Kind of cool to see I will admit. However, sciences teaches us otherwise so we best obey.

Know when to ask for help – wife or 911?

It can be tricky knowing when to call 911, especially for us guys. But performed some exhausting research and came up with some important guidelines as to when is the appropriate time to call and ask for help.

  • If you are unsure of how long to cook something – call your wife.
  • You didn’t cook the chicken long enough and have begun experiencing the full force of food poisoning – call the wife and then Call 911
  • Not sure if two different ingredients should be mixed together before placing the substance in the pan – call your wife.
  • You believe you ate something your severely allergic to and the swelling has begun along with respiratory distress? Call 911
  • You cut your finger and need a band-aid from the kids first aid kit – this one get yourself.
  • You cut OFF your finger using a dull knife? – Call 911
  • You accidentally burned your wife’s favorite kitchen mitten – Call 911 or hid long enough to not need to call 911
  • You started a fire in the kitchen and forgot to read the section about how to use a fire extinguisher? – Call 911

First aid kit – a must!

Now that I think about it, this should have been the first safety tip mentioned! It would have saved you when you burned your arm when your shirt caught fire or when you cut your finger while using a dull knife!

Either way, if you have cut your finger and need a good first aid kit, below are some great first aid kits that have saved many a man over the years when their wives were out of town – I highly recommend getting one!

Conclusion

I hope these highly effective and well thought out safety tips will prove helpful to you physically as well as maybe help save a marriage to two. If you know of any safety tips that I have forgotten to include, please let me know in the comments below!

What Are Dome Mirrors Used For?

What Are Dome Mirrors Used For?

As the name implies a dome mirror is convex in its structure, meaning that it is not flat but rounded outward, and as a mirror reflects images. If it was concave-shaped it would be rounded inward.

So, what viewing benefit does the convex shape provide and what are dome-shaped mirrors used for? Dome mirrors provide added safety, security, and surveillance capabilities by enabling the viewing of areas otherwise not visible with flat surface mirrors. This enhanced viewing is used in the prevention of accidents, theft, surprise attacks, or simply monitoring areas for other purposes.

Because dome mirrors allow viewing of blind spots, around corners, hallway intersections, entrance and exit paths, and even over certain barriers, they are essential elements of safety for individuals, vehicles, and equipment operations. In essence, dome mirrors allow the viewer to see areas normally hidden as well as a larger viewing area by simply looking at the mirror. They are often used in all types of commercial buildings, construction sites, warehouses, hospitals, parking garages, or any facility where being able to see what is coming and what is happening in areas typically hidden from normal view.

What are the different types of dome mirrors and what are their unique uses?

Dome mirrors typically come in three different types, each with different viewing capabilities, and therefore its use is specific to the unique viewing characteristic that is required for the setting used. Knowing this allows you to choose the best type of dome mirror for your needs. The three main types of dome mirrors are:

  1. Quarter Dome or 90 Degree View Mirror: This type of dome mirror is typically positioned in the corner of a room or the corner of an “L” shaped hallway. This mirror allows you to see what is happening on the other side of a room or area, what traffic may be coming around the corner (blind corner), and what may be approaching you from behind. They also provide a larger wide view than other types of dome mirrors.

2. Half Dome or 180 Degree View Mirror: This type of dome mirror is placed at the end of a hallway or pathway that has a “T’” intersection (3-way intersection) with another hallway or pathway or is placed in the center of a room. Its configuration gives you a good view of what is coming down the hallways to the right and left, or both sides of a room, and also a view of what is happing directly behind you. It can even allow for viewing on the opposite side of a short barrier. This type of mirror is usually installed high up on the wall or from the ceiling of the room or hallway

3. Full Dome or 360 Degree View Mirror: This type of mirror is placed centrally in a room or area, or in corridors that intersect forming a “+” or 4-way intersection. As the name implies, the full-dome mirror allows you a panoramic view of concurrently and is a good choice for surveillance and security of open facilities.

What are other considerations when selecting a dome mirror?

Dome mirrors are typically used in an indoor setting. They are also most effective for use in viewing areas where the objects need to be clearly viewed and are no more than about 20-25 feet away. The curvature of the dome safety mirror lens impacts its height/depth ratio. Therefore, the size and positioning of the mirror will determine its effectiveness. The larger the mirror, the larger the objects will appear and the greater the detail that will be provided, and vice versa. Consequently, if a dome mirror is too small or is positioned too far away so that the ability to clearly observe what is going on, the mirror will not be effective for its intended use. The following factors should be taken into consideration when determining which type of dome mirror is needed for your particular circumstances.

  • The distance in feet the person using the mirror will be located from the mirror.
  • The distance in feet from the mirror the objects or areas you want to view is located.
  • What degree of acuity or detail will you need in viewing the area or objects? For example, will you need to be able to distinguish a particular person from another person? Will you need to be able to identify changes in for example numbers or other images, etc.

In addition, there are options available for the construction of the lens of the safety dome mirror and the mirror backing. Each of these come with some advantages or disadvantages, or simply indicate which setting it would be best suited for use.

Mirror Lens Options

  1. Stainless Steel: strong material and provides the greatest resistance to corrosion.
  2. Acrylic: resistant to shatter and is lightweight while providing strength. You can also get a “scratch-resistant” coating.
  3. Glass: offers the best reflectivity for enhanced detail of images.
  4. Polycarbonate: offers strong durability and is shatter resistant.

 

Mirror Backing Options

  1. Galvanized Steel: strong and weather resistant and applicable for indoor or outdoor application.
  2. Plastic: lightweight and applicable for indoor or outdoor application.
  3. Zinc: weather-resistant and mostly chemical resistant and applicable for indoor or outdoor application.
  4. Hardboard: durable and applicable for indoor use or outdoor when covered.

 

 

What is the Difference Between a Wet and Dry Chemical Fire Extinguishing Agent?

Advances in fire protection technology have resulted in the development of fire extinguishing agents that are custom designed to suppress different types of fires based on the fuel type that is being consumed by the fire. Further, the Fire Triangle illustrates the three elements (heat, fuel, and oxygen) a fire needs to ignite and continue to burn, and different fire extinguishing agents interrupt the triangle in different ways to suppress the fire.

A wet chemical fire extinguishing agent is a liquid substance that extinguishes a fire by cooling or removing the heat and prevents the fire from reigniting by creating a barrier between the oxygen and fuel elements. A dry chemical fire extinguishing agent is a powdery substance that extinguishes a fire by smothering it and interrupting the chemical reaction by creating a barrier the fuel and oxygen.

Wet chemical fire extinguishing agents include a blend of potassium acetate and potassium citrate and are used on Class K fires. Class K fires involve flammable cooking media such as vegetable oils, animal fats, and greases. Therefore, this type of fire extinguisher and agent is typically used in restaurants, kitchens, and food busses. The liquid chemical, upon contact with the cooking media, reacts and produces a foam to cool and also prevent reigniting.

Dry chemical fire extinguishing agents include sodium bicarbonate, potassium bicarbonate, and monoammonium phosphate and are used to combat Class A, B, and C fires. Class A fires involve ordinary combustibles such as wood, paper, cloth, and trash. Class B fires involve inflammable or combustible liquids such as oil, gasoline, greases, solvents, alcohol, and lacquers. Class C fires involve energized electrical fires that can occur from overloaded electrical circuitry and cables, and short-circuiting in certain equipment and machines.  

 

What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Wet and Dry Chemical Fire Extinguishing Agents?

Wet Chemical Advantages

  • This extinguishing agent is the best choice for use on kitchen fires because of the duel mechanisms to disrupt the Fire Triangle. It also is effective in preventing the fire from reigniting.
  • The fire extinguishers that discharge the wet chemical do so with a lower pressure so as not to risk splattering the burning oil or grease which could spread the fire to other locations.

Wet Chemical Disadvantages

  • The wet chemical suppression systems that are built into commercial kitchens require a significantly larger amount of space for installation and the associated construction costs.

Dry Chemical Advantages

  • The most common dry chemical fire extinguisher is the ABC Dry Chemical. This one extinguisher is effective for use on three types (fuel source) of fires – Class A, B, and C.
  • The dry chemical can be used in areas where wet chemical would cause significant damage, such as electronics.
  • A dry chemical suppression system will require less storage space than a wet suppression system.

Dry Chemical Disadvantages

  • The agents used are corrosive and must be scrubbed off surfaces after a fire.
  • If the dry chemical is used in a suppression system, it requires being refilled and recharged after each time the system is activated.

·       Note: Wet chemical suppression systems are required to comply with NFPA 17A (Standard for Wet Chemical Extinguishing Systems) and NFPA 96 (Standard for Ventilation Control and Fire Protection for Commercial Cooking Operations).

·       Note: Dry chemical suppression systems are required to comply with NFPA 17 (Standard for Dry Chemical Extinguishing Systems) and NFPA 33 (Standard for Spray Application to Safely Use on Flammable and Combustible Materials)

What are the other types of fire extinguishing agents?

In addition to the wet and dry chemical fire extinguishing agents listed previously, other types of extinguishing agents include:

Click on the images below to view a helpful chart on the different characteristics of the various Classes of Fires and a listing of the various types of fire extinguishers and agents used to combat the different Classes of Fires.