Safety tips for students
- Make sure candles are in sturdy holders and put out after each use.
- Never leave a burning candle unattended.
- Keep candles away from draperies and linens.
- Use flameless candles which are both safe and attractive.
- Learn About Candle Safety »
- Cook only where it is permitted.
- Keep your cooking area clean and uncluttered.
- Never leave cooking unattended.
- If a fire starts in a microwave, keep the door closed and unplug the unit.
- Learn About Cooking Fire Safety »
- Make sure cigarettes and ashes are out. Never toss hot cigarette butts or ashes in the trash can.
- Use deep, wide ashtrays. Place ashtrays on something sturdy and hard to ignite.
- After a party, check for cigarette butts, especially under cushions. Chairs and sofas catch on fire fast and burn fast.
- It is risky to smoke when you have been drinking or are drowsy.
- Learn About Smoking Safety »
- Get low and go under the smoke to escape to your safe exit.
- Feel the door. If it's hot, use your second way out.
- Use the stairs; never use an elevator during a fire.
- Practice your escape plan. Always have two ways out.
- Learn About Escape Planning »
Off-campus fire safety
Good questions to ask before moving in or signing a lease
- Are working smoke alarms installed? (Preferably in each bedroom, interconnected to sound all if any one detects smoke)
- Are there at least two ways to exit your bedroom and your building?
- Do the upper floors of the building have at least two interior stairs, or a fire escape?
- Is a sprinkler system installed and maintained?
- Are the existing electrical outlets adequate for all of the appliances, computers, printers and electronics that you are bringing – without the need for extension cords?
- Are there EXIT signs in the building hallways to indicate accessible escape routes?
- Does the building have a fire alarm system installed and maintained?
- Has the buildings heating system been inspected recently (in the last year)?
- Is the building address clearly posted to allow emergency services to find you quickly in the event of an emergency?
- Does the sprinkler system or fire alarm system send a signal to the local fire department and/or campus security?
According to the U.S. Department of Education, there are approximately 18,000,000 students enrolled in 4,100 colleges and universities across the country. Since the 2000 academic year, 86% of the campus-related fire fatalities have occurred in off-campus housing where approximately two-thirds of students live.
There are five common factors in a number of these fires:
- Lack of automatic fire sprinklers
- Missing or disabled smoke alarms
- Careless disposal of smoking materials
- Impaired judgment from alcohol consumption
- Upholstered furniture fires on decks and porches
On-campus fire safety
In cases where fire fatalities have occurred on college campuses, alcohol was a factor. There is a strong link between alcohol and fire deaths. Alcohol abuse often impairs judgment and hampers evacuation efforts.
Many other factors contribute to the problem of dormitory housing fires including:
- Improper use of 911 notification systems delays emergency response.
- Student apathy is prevalent. Many are unaware that fire is a risk or threat in the environment.
- Evacuation efforts are hindered since fire alarms are often ignored.
- Building evacuations are delayed due to lack of preparation and preplanning.
- Vandalized and improperly maintained smoke alarms and fire alarm systems inhibit early detection of fires.
- Misuse of cooking appliances, overloaded electrical circuits, and extension cords increase the risk of fires.
Safety precautions for colleges and universities
- Provide students with a program for fire safety and prevention.
- Teach students how to properly notify the fire department using the 911 system.
- Install smoke alarms and an automatic fire sprinkler system in every dormitory room and every level of housing facilities.
- Maintain and regularly test smoke alarms and fire alarm systems. Replace smoke alarm batteries every semester.
- Regularly inspect rooms and buildings for fire hazards. Ask your local fire department for assistance.
- Inspect exit doors and windows and make sure they are working properly.
- Create and update detailed floor plans of buildings, and make them available to emergency personnel, resident advisors and students.
- Conduct fire drills and practice escape routes and evacuation plans. Urge students to take each alarm seriously.
- Make sure electrical outlets and power strips are not overloaded and extension cords are used properly.
- Learn to properly use and maintain heating and cooking appliances.