In June, the facility's fire prevention consultant came in to check smoke detectors, fire alarms, outlets and wiring. He came into my room and looked around my desktop computer. I brought a PC when I moved to my first nursing home, so I wondered what he was looking for, or at. I have never been told that my PC's surge protector or any of my peripherals were in violation of fire code.
The fire prevention consultant said my PC’s line surge protector was too close to my bed. He said, in Ohio, surge protectors within 6 feet of a resident bed must be 1363 A, fire code compliant. I had him write down all the information. I thought I need to buy one to continue using my PC.
I searched on a major shopping website and found a six-outlet 1363 A fire code compliant power strip. I was not surprised that it cost $63. I also found a computer line surge protector but the fine print said it cannot be used within six feet of a resident's bed.
The compliant power strip cost was more than the line surge protector I was using. I wondered if existing and higher-priced line surge protectors might be more fire code compliant than the inexpensive power strips with a breaker switch. However, I could not find the answer to that question online.
I read the comments of those who purchased 1363 A compliant power strips on the shopping website and learned many had a loved one in a nursing home and were told by the facility's management to purchase a fire code compliant power strip. I looked elsewhere to see if another manufacturer had a more economical 1363 A compliant power strip and could find none.
A few days later, the facility's maintenance man moved my computer stand farther away from my bed. I was fortunate this no-cost fix brought me into compliance. However, I wondered if some residents have difficulty finding enough outlets to plug in clocks, lamps, small fans and other powered items they use near the bed. I also wondered how this fire regulation affected maintenance and management of existing nursing homes. After all, a $63 compliant power strip is expensive.
I wish I had known about the fire code compliance power strips sooner so I could have saved to purchase one. I have always been compliant with fire code. I only used extension power strips with breakers when they were allowed.
Hopefully, this new regulation does not make things difficult for residents living in older nursing homes that may not have enough outlets in their living space.
Kathleen Mears is a long-time blogger who has been a nursing home resident for 21 years. She is an incomplete quadriplegic and uses a power wheelchair to get around. Her computer is her “window on the world.” This blog shares her thoughts and view of life as a nursing home resident as well as ideas of how it might be improved in the future.