Fire Safety on Campus, Part 1

firemen fighting structure fire

Just because you aren’t ready for home ownership doesn’t mean you can afford not to consider fire safety. Maybe you remember some key points from elementary school like “stop, drop, and roll.” Once you’re living on your own—either in a college dormitory or in your first apartment or sorority house—you need to make sure your residence is free from fire hazards. If you underestimate the risk of a residential fire in your apartment or dorm, you’re not alone: most Americans underestimate the risk of fire, even though it’s the type of disaster any of us is most likely to experience.

Fire Safety Tip #1: Ask About Fire Safety Equipment

Before you move in, make sure to ask about fire safety equipment. According to the National Fire Protection Association, or NFPA, fire departments across the U.S. responded to over 4,000 structure fires annually in college dormitories and other campus buildings between 2011 and 2015. Not only do accidents happen, but as careful as you may be (hint: follow the other tips listed here) you can’t control how careful others in your building may be. There are three main fire safety conditions you should insist on for any place where you consider living:

· updated electrical service designed to handle typical needs
· an escape ladder for any bedroom not on the main floor
· smoke alarms in every bedroom
· carbon monoxide detectors in central locations outside sleeping areas

If you are living on campus, you might want to take a look at details surrounding any fires on your school’s campus.

Fire Safety Tip #2: Keep Fire Safety Equipment Operational

Fire safety equipment won’t do you any good, if it’s not in proper working order or you’re not sure how to operate them. The first and most obvious pieces of fire safety equipment are smoke alarms. You need to test them regularly and change smoke alarm batteries twice each year. If you notice any malfunctions, don’t simply disable smoke detectors; instead, report the problem to your landlord or building management.

In addition to smoke detectors, if your rental includes a kitchen, it should also be equipped with a fire extinguisher. It’s your responsibility to educate yourself about when to (and when not to) use it as well as how to use the particular fire extinguisher you have.

Fire Safety Tip #3: Listen to the Fire Alarm

We get it: fire drills can be annoying. However, it’s important to participate. Whenever you hear a fire alarm, make sure to evacuate the building immediately. For one thing, your college may have consequences for students who fail to comply with mandatory drills. More importantly, though, you may not know when the fire alarm is going off due to a real fire. Getting out is definitely the best choice, even if it’s inconvenient.

These are only the first tips we have for fire safety. Check out more suggestions in Part 2.

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