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The Causes Of Fires And How To React

Feb 14, 2008
Campus Fire Safety: Dormitories

In most schools, fire safety and fire prevention are only taught through the third or fourth grades in elementary school. By the time teenagers graduate from high school and become adults as they go away to college, for many, much time has passed since they were last reminded and taught about fire safety.

The USFA (United States Fire Administration) states that where fire casualties occur on campus dormitories or housing facilities, alcohol has been a huge factor. Many people are aware of the stereotypical college student motto: work hard and play harder. Because of this, alcohol consumption is often rampant on almost any college campus. The USFA also states that nearly 50 percent of all college-aged fatalities occur when the victim was under the influence of alcohol. This hinders judgment, and greatly impairs evacuation efforts.

So what is the cause of most fires on campus? Cooking is at top of the list, though it is closely followed by careless smoking habits and even arson. Though students are often considered grown-up and 'on their own' when they go to college, many college campuses have rules for students to follow in order to keep them safe. Depending on the school, oftentimes these safety rules can be ignored. Students are still learning how to be responsible for themselves and their space (i.e. dorm room, housing apartment facility on campus). Smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detection devices are often aged and are not replaced with batteries as often as needed, thus greatly hindering the fire warning systems.

So, what suggestions should be found in a safety pamphlet that is handed out to students each semester? Reminders of basic fire safety and prevention practices, of course. Here are a few examples:

- Do overload electrical circuits and be careful when using power cords

- Be safe when cooking, and implement fire prevention practices

- Make sure fire alarm batteries are current and working

- When lighting candles, make sure they are properly contained (i.e. in a votive) and are a safe distance away from paper, wood, or fabric

- Carefully and correctly dispose of smoked cigarette butts

Next, what can the college or university do to keep the students safe as they live on campus?

- Hand out a fire safety and prevention pamphlets at the beginning of each semester

- Replace smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector's batteries at the beginning of each semester

- Conduct regular inspections of the housing facilities to ensure everything is running smoothly and is up to code

- Provide cigarette butt disposals throughout campus and nearby the dormitories

- Teach students how to properly contact emergency services (9-1-1)

- Conduct fire drills

Though college students are grown-up, they are often still learning responsibility. Reminding students of fire safety and prevention practices could greatly decrease the instance of careless fires occurring on campus each year. Most times, students haven't thought about fire safety since they were in grade school. Remind them, and inform them. That is the best way to aid fire prevention on campus.
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