As the Summer winds down, families across the country shift their focus to the start of a new school year. For most, this involves buying new school supplies, some new clothes, and finishing up any last-minute summer reading they’ve neglected to finish so far. But for families of students starting their first year of college, a new school year involves a lot more time, money, and preparation. In the next few weeks as you’re picking out bedding, comparing printers, and figuring out where your kids can park their bikes on campus, we hope you’ll take the time to talk with them about fire safety. Being in college, often far from home means a lot more responsibility on their part, so instilling your college-bound kids with knowledge about how to prevent fires in their dorms and living spaces and how to practice safe behaviors regarding fire will help them to make the most responsible choices possible as they begin their college experience this year.
Whether on-campus or off-campus, the following tips from the National Fire Protection Association can help you and your kids choose safe housing, prevent damage to their apartments, and potentially save the lives of your kids and their roommates from the danger of an apartment fire.
On looking for housing:
- Safe off-campus housing should include working smoke alarms and two ways out.
- Look for fully sprinklered housing when choosing a dorm or off-campus housing.
- Make sure you can hear the building alarm system when you are in your dorm room.
- If you choose to live in a dorm, make sure your sleeping room has a smoke alarm, or your dormitory suite has a smoke alarm in each living area as well as the sleeping room.
- If you choose to live in an apartment or house, make sure smoke alarms are installed in each sleeping room, outside every sleeping area, and on each level of the apartment unit or house.
After you move in:
- Test all smoke alarms at least monthly.
- Never remove batteries or disable a smoke alarm.
- Learn your building’s evacuation plan and practice all drills as if they were the real thing.
- If you live off-campus, have a fire escape plan with two ways out of every room.
- When the smoke alarm sounds, get our of the building quickly and stay out.
- Cook only when you are alert, not sleepy or drowsy from medicine or alcohol.
- Stay in the kitchen when cooking.
- Check with your local fire department for any restrictions before using a barbecue grill or fire pit.
- Check your school’s or landlord’s rules before using electrical appliances in your room.
- Remember that cooking equipment was involved in nearly nine out of ten reported fires in dormitory-type properties, so make sure to learn safe cooking practices with ovens, stoves, and microwaves prior to leaving home so you are less likely to burn down your building making a pot of mac and cheese.
- Burn candles only if the school or landlord permits their use.
- A candle is an open flame and should be placed away from anything that can burn.
- Never leave a candle unattended.
- Blow it out when you leave the room or go to sleep.
College is an exciting time for students to learn, grow, and mature and we can’t wait for the adventures your son or daughter will have this Fall at their respective universities. By learning and following the tips provided above, your child will be able to stay safe and keep their college experience focused on what really matters, from classes and football games to discovering their passions and a path for their future.
For more tips and material geared toward helping inform college students about fire safety, visit the NFPA’s website here.