College is a unique and invigorating experience—learning how to live on your own for the first time is exciting, but it can be stressful, or even dangerous, if you aren’t smart about it. To this end, it’s important to keep in mind the risks factors for fires that college students commonly face. You should enjoy your college years safely, so here are a few things to keep in mind so that you can remember these years as some of the best of your life.
1. Most accidents happen off-campus, so drink responsibly
94% of all campus fire-related fatalities happen off-campus. This doesn’t mean that this is only an issue for juniors and seniors: alcohol is a factor in 76% of these accidents, a correlation that should tell us how often these fires happen at off-campus parties. It’s important to always be aware of your surroundings, and to drink responsibly so that, in the event of an emergency, everyone can stay as safe as possible. Moreover, being impaired raises the chance of a fire in all the circumstances outlined below, so keep that in mind as you read the rest of this guide.
2. Leave your smoke alarms alone
College students don’t always live in the nicest off-campus apartments. We’ve all had to deal with a temperamental fire alarm that goes off the second the oven begins pre-heating. However, this is no excuse to tamper with your smoke alarms: 58% of fatal campus fires saw a missing or disconnected smoke alarm. It is essential that you ensure that there is a smoke alarm present, and that it is working, even if it might be a little annoying sometimes. A few seconds waving a towel is worth the safety a fire alarm brings.
3. Cook safely
Whether you do or not know your way around a kitchen, you still may not be familiar with how to maintain a clean and safe cooking space. To reduce the fire risk in your apartment, only cook in appropriate rooms (e.g., don’t put a hot plate in your bedroom). If you are cooking in an appropriate area, make sure that the area is kept tidy and free of anything flammable. Don’t walk away from what you’re trying to make! You never know when a bit of cooking oil could splash where it shouldn’t. Finally, if you’re going to survive on a diet of microwavable burritos, make sure you know what to do in the event of a microwave fire: keep the door closed, and unplug the unit. Do not open the microwave.
4. If you have to smoke…
Do it safely. Smoking is the leading cause fatal campus fires, being the direct cause of 29% of them. If you have been drinking or are feeling exhausted, wait to light that cigarette until the next morning. If you can smoke safely, make sure that you put your hot butts in a wide and deep ashtray, which is itself placed on something stable and difficult to burn. When you dispose of the trash in the ashtray, ensure that everything is definitely extinguished. If you have a lot of guests over to your apartment, scan the room for any discarded butts to prevent a surprise fire from catching you unaware.
5. Plug-in smartly
You have a lot of gadgets that all need to charge or otherwise draw power from the wall. Like your kitchen, your off-campus apartment may not have the most up-to-date electrical fixtures. Therefore, it is even more important that you follow basic safety guidelines when plugging everything in. Keep all your lamps or light bulbs away from anything flammable. Don’t plug large appliances, like mini-fridges, into an extension cord. Only use surge protectors or power strips that have internal overload protection so that they don’t cause you any trouble. Otherwise, be sure to use common sense! Don’t daisy chain power strips or otherwise plug too much into the same socket.
If you follow these tips, you’ll be able to enjoy your amazing college years without fear. Focus on your future with fire safety!