Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Please don't burn down the Dormitory!

I'm an ordinary guy
Burning down the house
-Talking Heads song
When you sent your young son or daughter off to college this year, one of the last thing you'll want to hear is that they burned down the dormitory building. Most college students lack knowledge about fire safety and prevention (and may lack common sense in general). Students may think it's cool to burn candles or incense and it's also cool to get plastered drunk. These don't mix well. In more than 50% of adult fire fatalities, victims were under the influence of alcohol at the time of the fire. Alcohol impairs judgment and hampers evacuation efforts.

The United States Fire Administration (USFA) offers these tips:

Cooking is the leading cause of fire injuries on college campuses, closely followed by careless smoking and arson. Students are careless with ashes or fall asleep with a lit cigarette.

Many factors contribute to the problem of dormitory housing fires.
  • Improper use of 911 notification systems delays emergency response.
  • Student apathy is prevalent. Many are unaware that fire is a risk or threat in the environment.
  • Evacuation efforts are hindered since fire alarms are often ignored.
  • Building evacuations are delayed due to lack of preparation and preplanning.
  • Vandalized and improperly maintained smoke alarms and fire alarm systems inhibit early detection of fires.
  • Misuse of cooking appliances (In my college days we evacuated for a fire caused by food forgotten on a stove downstairs.)
  • Overloaded electrical circuits and extension cords increase the risk of fires.

Bottom Line Safety Precautions

  • Teach your kids how to properly notify the fire department using the 911 system.
  • If you can visit the college, inspect your child's room for fire hazards like overloaded electrical outlets.
  • Know the location of emergency exit doors and windows.
  • Urge your kids to take each alarm seriously and to participate in fire drills.
  • Teach safe cooking techniques. Don't encourage cooking in dorm rooms.

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