Fire Prevention

An OSFM fire prevention specialist inspecting a new facilityThe Prevention Division works to reduce the potential impact of fire and explosion hazards where people live, work, and congregate. This team focuses on inspecting facilities which pose distinct fire hazards and where the potential loss of life from fire is very high.

The division is also responsible for the promotion of fire safety and the education of building owners, operators, and occupants, and the general public. Both office and field personnel are active educators, presenting a variety of program topics across the state of Kansas.

Our office even employs a dedicated Education Consultant to work with local fire and law enforcement jurisdictions, helping to educate kids on fire safety and prevent them from starting fires.


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Dealing Safely with Chlorine

Dan Thompson | Dec 30, 2013

What chlorine is

  •  Chlorine is an element used in industry and found in some household products.
  •  Chlorine can be a poisonous gas or a liquid.
  •  Chlorine gas can be recognized by its pungent, irritating odor, which smells like bleach (the strong smell may be a warning of exposure).
  •  Chlorine gas appears to be yellow-green in color.
  •  Chlorine is not flammable, but can react explosively or form explosive compounds with other chemicals like turpentine or ammonia.

Where chlorine is found and how is it used

  •  Chlorine was used in WW I as a choking (pulmonary) agent.
  •  Chlorine is one of the most commonly manufactured chemicals in the US, used as a bleach, in the manufacture of paper and cloth, and also used to make pesticides (insect killers), rubber, and solvents.
  •  Chlorine is used in drinking water and swimming pool water to kill harmful bacteria and as part of the sanitation process for industrial waste/sewage.
  •  Household chlorine bleach can release chlorine gas if mixed with other cleaners.

How people can be exposed to chlorine

  •  People may be exposed through skin or eye contact, or by breathing contaminated air.
  •  People may be exposed by touching or drinking water exposed to chlorine.
  •  People may be exposed by eating food contaminated with liquid chlorine
  •  People’s risk for exposure depends on how close they are to the place where the chlorine was released.
  •  Chlorine gas is heavier than air, so it settles in low-lying areas.

How chlorine works

  •  The extent of poisoning caused by chlorine depends on the amount of chlorine a person is exposed to, how the person was exposed, and the length of time of the exposure.
  •  When chlorine gas comes into contact with moist tissues such as the eyes, throat, and lungs, an acid is produced that can damage these tissues.

What the long-term health effects are

  •  Long-term complications from chlorine exposure are not found in people who survive a sudden exposure unless they suffer complications like pneumonia during therapy. Chronic bronchitis may develop in people who develop pneumonia during therapy.

Signs/symptoms of chlorine exposure

During or immediately after exposure to dangerous concentrations of chlorine, the following signs and symptoms may develop:

  •  Coughing
  •  Chest tightness
  •  Burning sensation in the nose, throat, and eyes
  •  Watery eyes
  •  Blurred vision
  •  Nausea and vomiting
  •  Burning pain, redness, and blisters on the skin if exposed to gas
  •  Skin injury similar to frostbite if exposed to liquid chlorine
  •  Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath (may appear immediately if high concentrations of chlorine gas are inhaled, or may be delayed if low concentrations of chlorine gas are inhaled)
  • Fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema) within 2 to 4 hours

How to protect yourself, and what to do if exposed to chlorine

  •  Leave the area, and getting to fresh air is highly effective in reducing exposure.
  •  If outdoor release, move away from the release, to the highest ground possible
  •  If indoor release, get out of the building immediately If you think you may have been exposed, remove your clothing, rapidly wash your entire body with soap and water, and get medical care as quickly as possible.

Handling of exposed clothing

  •  Remove clothing quickly, do NOT pull over head.
  •  Seal clothing in a plastic bag. Then double seal the first bag into a second plastic bag.
  •  Inform emergency or medical personnel you have sealed the clothing - do NOT handle the bags.
  •  If helping others - avoid touching contaminated areas, remove clothing quickly and seal.
  •  Wash the entire body with soap and water quickly.
  •  If your eyes are burning or your vision blurred, rinse your eyes with plain water for 10 to 15 minutes. (remove  contact lens first, bag them and do not put them back in)
  •  If you wear eyeglasses, wash them thoroughly with soap and water before putting them back on.
  •  If you swallowed chlorine, do not induce vomiting or drink fluids, just seek immediate medical attention.

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