Fire safety for photographers and filmmakers?
I wanted to post something about fire safety in a professional's work area. These are the things I have learned through research and personal experience - and I would love to hear any more tips you have!
IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: I am not a trained fire safety instructor or fire fighter. The information on this post may be incorrect, and of course, it is not a complete list of all dangers. Please consult your local fire department for more information. Some fire departments will do free home/office checks for you.
So, lets get started! A few things will seem a bit obvious but a lot of these are neglected.
1. Keep electrical hot-spots (such as charging stations and power junctions) in a fire-safe area, maybe a metal or glass box. Chargers, batteries and extension sockets are hotspots for sparks, fires and even small explosions. I've seen this first hand, one charger almost burned my hand when it exploded. A metal box can be bought/found/constructed very cheaply, and could prevent a spark from becoming a fire.
2. Keep a fire extinguisher around! Or, where suitable, another method of fire fighting, like a fire blanket.
3. Turn off unneeded electrical appliances when leaving the area. Especially high-risk ones like chargers.
4. Be careful of AC/DC adapters, these can explode or overheat. I never leave mine on charge when I'm out.
5. Be careful of cheap ebay imports. Many of them are fantastic value for a budding creatives, and I have used lots of them, however, they can be a real danger. Some electrical equipment (usually the cheap stuff) can be very badly designed or has poor quality/safety control, which can result in electrical damage to more expensive equipment, electrocution, fire, etc. For example, I have seen cheap LED fairy light strips with a wire so thin that it broke with almost no force, exposing the 240v power line. But it continued to work, which means it would have been a hidden danger, which is even worse. I have also recently seen an LED house bulb with a very unsafe design, which would have allowed easy electrocution.
6. Avoid doing your own repairs on electricals or doing DIY electrical projects if you don't know what you're doing. At the very least, if you do, don't leave that stuff unattended.
7. Be careful with liquids around electrical stuff - Pretty obvious, this can cause electrical damage and sparks. I have a very strict "No drinks on my work table" policy when friends are visiting.
8. Test electrical sockets before plugging expensive stuff in. I've plugged in a computer system into a wall that was damp on the inside from a leak, which caused the computer's power system to fry. Luckily the only other thing to go was a set of speakers that literally exploded and shot a fire ball which narrowly missed my face.
9. Avoid super-hot lights if possible. Some halogens get so hot you can literally cook an egg on them. This much heat is one of the biggest fire risks around the creative industries.
10. Check cables for damage regularly. Cuts or shorts in the cable can cause fires to start, as well as electrocution. It is obviously safer to do so when the cable is not plugged in.