Fire Safety For Those Headed Off To College, Living On Or Off Campus

While Waterford may not have a college, kids from Waterford are presently heading out to begin their Fall Semesters at colleges all around The Country, and college programs located within Waterford are gearing up for the semester.  As students return to dorm life or off campus apartments shared with friends, it is important that students living both on campus and off campus understand the fire risks and the importance of fire safety measures. 

With the number of reported college housing fires increasing by nearly 25% between 2003 and 2013, and Fire Departments around The Country responding to an average 11 college dorm fires per day, there are a number of common factor often associated with fires involving college students, some within the control of the students and some outside of their control, but basic fire safety can help reduce these risks.  

While students may not have any control over a lack of an automatic sprinkler system, missing or damaged smoke detectors or others carelessly disposing of smoking materials, students and their parents should aware of these factors and the risks they pose.  

What students do have in their control, to help prevent fires, includes: 

• Students can purchase their own smoke detectors, just to be cautious. 

• Everyone should aware of littered smoking materials and ensure they are extinguished. 

• Parents, get your kids flameless candles operated by batteries rather than lighting real candles. 

• Students should not leave the kitchen while cooking, as cooking equipment is involved in more than 85% of reported college housing fires.  

• Everyone in a dorm should ensure they know their fire escape route out of their dorm or building. 

• Roommates should talk about a safety plan and a meeting place outside to meet up, and ensure everyone is out, accounted for and safe should a fire occur

• Never remove batteries from a smoke detector

• Everyone should always clean dryer lint traps; lint is a frequent cause of structure fires. 

• Students should keep food handy that does not require cooking … cooking if you’ve had too much to drink increases the likelihood of mistake being made a fire being started … yes parents, you didn’t want to read that one. 

• Do not pinch electrical cord under desks or beds, this destroys the wires and can cause a fire

• Always buy durable extension cords, use surge bars and do not overload outlets 

• Do not run any wires through a door hinge point, pinched wires cause fires

• If using a space heater keep it far away from everything; make sure it has plenty of breathing room.

Statistically college dorm fires are more likely to occur between 5PM and 11PM, as well as on weekends, however students should always be aware that fires do not watch a clock or read a calendar. Fires can start any time of day or any day of the week. 

On average 6 out of 7 college dorm fires are started by cooking. It is OK to watch cooking shows, but it is not OK to use a blowtorch to make Crème Brule in the dorm. 

Finally for those living off campus and thinking, “I am safe, I’m not in a dorm” … every single campus related fire fatality in the past five years has occurred in off campus housing.  This is because there is little to no fire prevention oversight off campus. You should be that fire safety oversight!

Whether you live on campus or off campus, follow basic fire prevention rules, be safe, be aware and enjoy the school year! Winter break is only around four months away.