Every year college and university students experience a growing number of fire related emergencies. There are several causes for these fires, however most are due to a general lack of knowledge about fire safety and prevention. Cooking is a leading cause of fire injuries on college campuses, closely followed by careless smoking and arson.
In addition, most cases of fire fatalities on college campuses involve alcohol abuse. Unfortunately this link between alcohol and fire deaths is tightly associated. In many fire related adult fatalities, victims were under the influence at the time of the fire. Alcohol abuse greatly impairs judgment and therefore significantly hampers evacuation efforts.
There are many causes contributing to the problem of dormitory, fraternity and sorority house fires. For instance:
- Improper use of the 911 notification system leading to delays in emergency response.
- Student apathy reducing awareness of the real risk and threat of fire in the environment.
- Evacuation efforts hindered when fire alarms are ignored, or
- Building evacuations delayed due to the lack of preparation and planning.
- Vandalized or improperly maintained smoke and fire alarms preventing early detection.
- Misuse of cooking appliances, overloaded electrical circuits and extension cords.
All of these causes can be prevented with some modest planning. Here are a few easy steps to help ensure your safety in your dormitory, fraternity or sorority house:
- Know how to call for emergency assistance.
- Do not overload electrical outlets and make certain extension cords are used properly. Check for frayed or damaged appliance cords, wiring, fuses or breakers. Buy a surge protector if you have a computer at school because the problem of overloading seems to prevail with computers.
- Do not tamper with smoke detectors or fire alarm systems; be sure batteries are changed every six months.
- Do not leave candles burning while the room/house is unattended.
- Map out two escape routes from every room.
- Make sure that windows can be quickly opened in the event you must exit due to a fire.
- Overheating, unusual smells, electrical shorts and sparks are all warning signs that household appliances need to be repaired or replaced. Be sure to follow manufacturer’s safety precautions.
- With proper use, portable space heaters provide warmth and comfort. However, they are not drying racks or toasters. Keep anything combustible at least three feet from any space heater.
- Be aware of the dangers from smoking in overstuffed furniture.
- Keep your house properly maintained as required by state law, and ensure that university standards are being met.