While dorm life can be a fun experience, the West Virginia State Fire Marshal’s office advised parents to educate their college children on campus fire safety.
The Center for Campus Fire Safety recently designated the month of September as “National Campus Fire Safety Month.” According to the state fire marshal’s office, in West Virginia from Jan. 2000 through Dec. 2008, there were 96 reported fires with one fire death due to fires in college housing, such as dorms, fraternities, sororities and barracks. An estimated $578,760 in total estimated property loss was reported as well. In addition, from 2002 to 2005, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reported that U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated annual average of 3,300 fires in college housing structures. These fires averaged seven civilian deaths, 46 civilian fire injuries and $25 million in direct property damage per year.
To protect your college student from fire related injury or death as well as loss of on and off campus property, the state fire marshal recommends sharing the following tips:
• Look for housing with full sprinkler systems when choosing either a dorm or off-campus residence.
• Never disable a smoke alarm or any other fire protection equipment — this is not only a crime, but it endangers everyone in the building as well as the responding firefighters.
• Regularly inspect rooms and buildings for fire hazards. Local fire departments are typically willing to assist in this.
• Inspect exit doors and windows to ensure that they are working properly.
• Make sure to know the proper protocol for alerting fire departments and 911 in the event of a fire.
• Always participate in fire drills and practice escape routes and evacuation plans.
• Take every fire alarm seriously.
• Do not overload electrical outlets and be sure to use extension cords properly.
• Do not burn candles.
• Smoke only where permitted, preferably outside.
• If residing in on-campus housing, be sure to follow the school’s rules regarding use of electrical appliances.
• Use a surge protector for computers. Be sure to plug the protector directly into an outlet.
According to the state fire marshal’s office, alcohol was a major factor in cases where fires occurred on college campuses. In addition, 72 percent of reported fires involved cooking equipment.
While the aforementioned tips are mainly geared toward college students, all residents should follow fire safety measures as well.