Part one of a three-part series
Attending college is a grand adventure, whether students choose to live on campus or commute. I never made it past Puppy Kindergarten. But college sounds like fun. However, it also can prove risky for anyone who fails to sufficiently prepare for potential emergencies. In our ongoing effort to save lives through training, the Allied Universal Fire Life Training System is expanding our online safety education to include residence hall fire life safety. Using building-specific information, students living in campus housing who attend subscribing universities will be able to log in to modules designed to train them to be safe, whether they live in a residence hall, traditional or suite-style residence, on or off campus.
To help college students be safe while attending college, we are writing a three-part blog series about campus safety. In it, we will offer helpful tips to keep students safe relative to fire, personally, and in cyberspace. This week’s post will focus on fire life safety.
Fire Life Safety – Most modern buildings are equipped with a variety of fire protection features such as fire alarms, smoke detectors, automatic sprinklers, illuminated signage, fire extinguishers, automatic self-closing fire doors, and compartmentation construction techniques. However, regardless of age or sophistication of the building, these or other fire safety features alone cannot guarantee safety. These buildings have been designed to provide sufficient time to escape. So, for maximum safety, students should be aware of their building’s specific fire drills and emergency evacuation procedures.
The Center for Campus Fire Safety reports that almost 80 percent of fire-related fatalities in student housing occur off campus. They result from lack of automatic fire sprinklers, missing or disabled smoke alarms, and careless disposal of smoking materials. What’s more, officials with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) report that fires in dormitories can double in size every 30 to 60 seconds, and point to the use of cooking equipment as the cause for 86 percent of property damage in dormitory-type properties. We don’t cook inside the doghouse. There just isn’t room. In just a couple of minutes – whatever the cause of the fire – flames and smoke can engulf an entire room.
To help prevent fire-related emergencies on or off campus, students can follow these fire life safety tips:
- Make sure off-campus housing features smoke alarms and fire sprinklers in each bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on each level. For optimal protection, the smoke alarms should be connected so they all sound at once.
- Test smoke alarms at least monthly.
- Know where your fire extinguishers are, that they are inspected to function, and that residents know how to use the equipment.
- TALK with your roommates, call a meeting to discuss personal and fire safety to reinforce each person’s commitment to shared safety values and practices. Don’t remove batteries or otherwise disable alarms.
- Don’t remove batteries or otherwise disable alarms. This includes batting at them with a broom handle.
- Learn the building’s evacuation plan and routinely practice drills as if they were actual fire events.
- Never rent at a building that is converted into multi-tenant residences or additional rooms which do not meet local codes and/or occupancy requirements – do not hesitate to ask for proof of compliance/certification.
- Create a fire escape plan with two ways out of every room, whenever possible. Remember that windows could potentially provide a means of exit. but always assess risk (oxygen to the fire, likelihood of serious or grave injuries, etc.
- When the smoke alarm or fire alarm sounds, evacuate the building and stay out until cleared to reenter the building. If firefighters or other first responders arrive on scene, students should wait to hear the “all clear” from someone in authority.
- During power outages, use a flashlight. Or you could purchase some of those cool night-vision goggles.
- Learn the institution’s rules before using electrical appliances.
- Cook only where permitted, and only when alert.
- Check with the local fire department for any restrictions before using a barbeque grill, fire pit, or outdoor fireplace.
- Many institutions offer checklist and audit programs for off-campus safety, including fire. Some campus public safety departments even offer an on-site assessment – be sure to ask your campus public safety office about what programs exist for your campus community.
- Use surge protectors for computers and plug protectors directly into outlets instead of extension cords. And keep all cords out of the way of pets. Puppies like to chew them.
In the coming weeks, check back to read more about college safety. Remember that safety is a priority for everyone, all year long. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Fire Life Training System, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.