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Fire Safety on Campus

september_article1-2013According to the U.S. Fire Administration there are over 3,800 university housing fires each year. While dormitories are usually furnished with smoke alarms, sprinkler systems, and other safety measures, off-campus housing is not always as well-equipped. Campus Firewatch states that four out of five campus-related fire deaths occur in off-campus housing, where approximately two-thirds of our students live.

Cooking is the leading cause of campus fires (88 percent), followed by arson; careless smoking; unattended candles; and overloaded extension cords, power strips and outlets. If your child is going away to college, please share this important fire safety tips.

Frequently prohibited items may cause a fire

  • Cooking Appliances – this includes electric skillets, hot plates, coffee makers/hot pots and toaster ovens
  • Open flames and other burning items – despite being banned by most campuses, candles and incense account for 20 percent of dorm room fires
  • Extension cords and “octopus” plugs – be sure not to overload electrical outlets and only use approved surge protectors
  • Electric blankets or sheets
  • Space heaters

Permissible items may still pose a risk

  • Unplug hairdryers, curling irons, flat irons when not in use
  • Smoking – Students should only smoke in designated areas and make sure to completely extinguish all smoking materials
  • Only iron clothes on flame-resistant surfaces and unplug the iron when not in use
  • Make certain all appliances are UL approved

Reduce “fuel” that may feed a fire

  • Keep your room neat – clothes and papers strewn about can cause a small fire to spread quickly
  • Empty the garbage frequently
  • Keep posters and other flammable wall decorations to a minimum
  • Do not cover lights with fabric such as curtains, scarves or tapestries

Use common sense:

  • Don’t tamper with or try to cover up smoke detectors
  • Never hang anything on the sprinkler heads
  • Do not activate fire alarms or call 9-1-1 unless there is an actual emergency

For more information, visit the U.S. Fire Administration website: www.usfa.fema.gov/citizens/college