Three key fire safety practices for salons and spas

Earlier this month was Fire Prevention Week, which makes this as good a time as any to review salon fire safety. Many salon owners and staff are occupied managing day-to-day risks, spot-testing new products and practicing care in cuticle trimming. But salon owners and managers should lead an effort to periodically review their fire risks, relevant equipment and safety procedures. We’ll get you started here.

Know your hazards.
Surrounded by hot hairdryers and chemicals labeled “flammable,” no one can stand in a salon and argue that it is not a risky place for fires. Clothes dryers, electric tools (e.g., straighteners, curling irons) and wax warmers are all common sources of fire, and common salon chemicals can add fuel to fires.

These are familiar risks to salon and spa owners, but are they as familiar to every member of your staff? Train staff members to recognize fire hazards, and let them know what to do if they recognize imminent dangers.

Meet your fire extinguishers.
Do your fire extinguishers contain carbon dioxide, dry powder or foam? Which one do you use on which type of fire? When is the last time it was inspected? And how do you use that thing, anyway?

If you cannot answer these questions, it’s time you learned more about fire extinguishers. With their mix of fire risks, salons should have extinguishers appropriate for both chemical and electrical fires to be on the safe side. If you expect employees to fight small fires if they arise, they must be trained in proper operation of a fire extinguisher.

Inspect your electrical systems.
In salons, a great deal of electrical equipment is operating for hours and hours on end—often from open to close. This leaves appliances and tools at greater risk for wear and tear than you may realize, and worn and frayed cords are a fire hazard. While you’re inspecting, test your smoke alarms and replace batteries as necessary.

Once a month, check on the cords and plug connectors on your dryers, steamers, etc. Also check electrical sockets for discoloration or signs of scorching. Once a year, have a licensed electrician check your appliances and electrical system, and call him sooner if your fuses blow out often. If you have renovations planned, include in those plans a master switch for the electric in your building.

If you need more information on fire safety (as well as emergency planning), OSHA offers some resources, including a guide to fire extinguishers.

Sean Brownyard is executive program manager for SASSI, the Salon and Spa Specialty Insurance program at Brownyard Group. He can be reached at sbrownyard@brownyard.com.