Officer encourages campus fire safety

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College living is often the first opportunity for many young people to live outside of their home. With all the excitement and anticipation of school, new friends and freedom, safety often gets pushed to the side. Fire safety could not be a more important issue at this juncture in life.

Fires occur all too often on college campuses across the United States. In fact, each year an estimated 3,800 fires occur in university housing units. These fires account for more than $9 million in property loss and often result in critical injuries and death. All too often, alcohol or drug use is a factor in the ignition of these fires and the inability of students to escape.

Community living comes with certain hazards. No one is any safer than the least safe person in the building. It is critical for students to be keenly aware of their surroundings and to be ever mindful of fire safety.  And, while it’s never popular to report others for their unsafe behavior, with so much at stake, it is a mindset all residents must share.

To help keep yourself safe in your housing units, consider the following:

Smoke alarms save lives! Smoke alarms and smoke detection systems are located throughout campus residences. Never cover or disable a smoke alarm. Keep these devices in working order. They are your best defense against fire and give early warning when a fire occurs, allowing time to escape.

Sound the alarm! If you see or smell smoke, or see fire, call 9-1-1 and sound the alarm in your building, while getting out safely!

Respond to alarms, always! When the alarm sounds, always take action. The fire alarm you ignore may well be the real thing. It isn’t worth the chance. Discourage people from misusing fire alarms so when they do go off, you know it’s likely the real thing.

Get out! Stay out! Learn your exits as soon as you move in. Always know two ways out of your building (without using an elevator). When the fire alarm sounds, get out and stay out of the building until an official tells you that it’s okay to return.

Know your meeting place! Each residence hall has a designated gathering place in an emergency. Know where to go, so you can be quickly accounted for.

Automatic sprinklers are not a towel rack! Your college residence has automatic fire sprinklers, take care to keep them clear. Hanging items from them keeps the water spray from controlling a fire. When working properly, a fire in a room with a sprinkler will be controlled by that sprinkler almost every time. That saves lives.

Cooking! Rules about candles, cooking and other things related to flames and heat are for everyone’s protection. Check your Residence Life Handbook for a complete list of “prohibited items.” Do not allow any of these items in your living space or anyone else’s. Remember, you are no safer than the most unsafe person in the building. Do you trust them with these items?

Fire extinguishers! Fire extinguishers can be a good item, if you know how to use them and have had practice. Just because an extinguisher hangs on the wall does not mean you need to use it. Life safety is the number one priority, so secure that first. Only use a fire extinguisher if you feel competent. The best choice may be to get out and contact the fire department quickly.

Remember always, YOUR SAFETY IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY. Take it seriously!


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