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.

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!

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.