Fire Safety on Campus, Part 2

fireman watching structure burning

Books, class schedules, prerequisites, sports, social life, and more—college life is filled with many areas that demand your attention. But all of those aspects of your life can literally go up in smoke if you don’t prioritize fire safety. As significant as having fire safety equipment properly installed and paying attention to fire alarms may be (see Part 1), there’s certainly more to fire safety for college students than those steps alone. Many students unwittingly put themselves—and their roommates—at greater risk by using certain items and participating in particular activities.

Fire Safety Tip #4: Eliminate Clutter and At-Risk Decor

A messy dorm room might seem like a personal preference, but it’s also a safety concern. The National Fire Protection Association, or NFPA, highly recommends eliminating clutter, which can help fires start more easily and spread more quickly. (The risks are heightened if items are near heaters.) If excess items block your path to an exit or hinder access to your entryway, safety can be further affected.

In addition to an overage of items, certain items can pose added safety risks. One is halogen lamps, which many colleges actually prohibit because of the risks associated with them. Another is space heaters. In addition, ceiling decorations that cover fire sprinklers can keep those safety features from working properly. Extension cords are also commonly used by college students; however, they’re not intended for long-term use. Also be cautious about overloading any electrical outlets and be sure to unplug small appliances—especially heat-producing ones—when they aren’t in use. In addition, any electrical appliances should be replaced if their cords show signs of damage or make sparks.

Fire Safety Tip #5: Cook with Care

You’re probably not shocked to find out that the vast majority (86%) of structure fires in on-campus housing between the years 2011 and 2015 were caused by cooking equipment. You can greatly reduce the chances of fire by carefully monitoring stoves and ovens while they’re in use and using timers to check on food while it’s cooking. Before you turn on the stove, be sure to remove flammable items, including dish towels and printed recipes, from the area. If you’re not sure how to use a cooking appliance, ask a residence hall assistant to demonstrate its use before you try.

In case a small grease fire begins, keep a lid nearby; smothering the fire by putting the lid over a pan can help put out the fire before it gets out of control. Of course, you should also turn off the cooktop, as well.

When it comes to microwave use, be sure to use heatproof glass and other microwave-safe cookware rather than aluminum foil, foam containers, or most plastics. If a fire starts inside your microwave, leave the microwave door closed, turn off the appliance, and then unplug it from the wall. If the fire doesn’t go out on its own, call the fire department.

Share Your Thoughts


6 + nine =