When you work in a traditional office setting in a commercial space, it’s easy to overlook the features that have been put in place specifically for your safety. Usually, state regulations call for things like illuminated red exit signs and emergency lighting in office buildings. While you may not be required by law to take these measures in your home office, it’s smart to be prepared for any situation, from power failures to fires, or worse. Here are a few home office safety tips to consider:
It may seem like a no-brainer, but securing your equipment and valuables from potential thieves or intruders is number one on the safety checklist. Installing motion-sensitive lighting in your yard and a security system in your home are smart tactics, but there are some more basic and wallet-friendly things you can do, too. For example, make sure you have window treatments in your office that obstruct the view from outside.
If you see clients in your home, it’s good policy to always meet them in public for the first meeting — somewhere like a coffee shop or library. This way, you are not putting yourself at unnecessary risk. You should take precaution with deliveries as well; never let a delivery person enter your home.
Another important part of home office safety is egress. You should be able to identify multiple exits from your office and be prepared to use them. If your office is not on the first floor, do you have a safety ladder or access to a fire escape as a means to exit through the window? Are your floors clear and free of trips hazards like wires and clutter? Are the walkways, aisles and doors unobstructed?
According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International, 50,900 house fires each year are attributed to electrical problems, with 3,300 of those caused by extension cords. When running through your safety checklist, be sure to include electrical issues.
Make sure that your outlets are not overloaded, that your computer is connected through a surge suppressor, and that, wherever possible, your outlets contain arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs). These receptacles prevent fires by detecting electrical arcs and disconnecting power before the arc can cause a fire. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates AFCIs could prevent half of the electrical house fires that take place each year.
The first step in fire safety is ensuring that you have a properly functioning smoke detector in your space. Nowadays, you can purchase a smart, battery operated smoke and carbon monoxide detector that regularly tests itself for less than forty dollars. You should always make sure that any radiators and space heaters are kept away from paper and other flammable items, and that if a fire does occur, you have easy access to a fire extinguisher.
What happens when the power goes out in your home? Do you fumble around in the dark in search of a flashlight or candles? Commercial offices are equipped with emergency lighting, but it could be very helpful in your home, as well. Many vendors make a wide variety of LED emergency light fixtures (including the pictured model from Lithonia) at various affordable price points.
What safety measures do you take in your home office?
Sarah Kellner writes on home office and small business topics for Home Depot, including safety themes such as fire and electrical safety and emergency lighting. Home Depot’s emergency lighting selection has many models available for businesses, including styles mentioned by Sarah.
Recommended Books on Setting Up a Home Office:
- The Home Office Handbook: Rules of Thumb for Organizing Your Time, Information, and Workspace
- Taunton’s Home Workspace Idea Book (Taunton Home Idea Books)
- The Home Office that Works: Make Working at Home a Success – A Guide for Entrepreneurs and Telecommuters
- The Home Office that Works