There is nothing more important to a parent than knowing that their children are going to live in a safe place when they go off to college.  Most  college students are currently in the process of moving into on-campus or off-campus housing.  The month of September is a good time to remind all of us of campus fire safety.  There are many things to know about fire safety, when it comes to relocating your student.   

In its’ seventh year, Campus Fire Safety Month reminds us that since January, 2000, 144 persons have died in campus-related fires, with four out of five of the fires occurring in off-campus housing.  Nationwide colleges and universities must make teaching their students about fire safety a high priority.  In a survey prepared by the Michael Minger Foundation in 2009, most schools showed a lack of a coordinated approach to fire safety.  Michael Minger was a college student who lost his life in a residence hall arson fire.   The survey showed that schools were inconsistent in how they educated their students on fire safety, and what would be done to ensure that students, faculty and staff, as well as disabled students were evacuated safely from campus buildings.  A number of fires on campus or in apartments started on porches where couches and other combustible furniture caught fire, either through carelessness, smoking materials, or impaired judgment from alcohol, which lead to ignition or inability to escape the fire. 

Parents need to ask these questions when helping their student choose where they will live: 

  •          Are there two ways out of the house?
  •          If they live on the upper floor, is there a way to escape, such as a working window?
  •          Do they have an escape ladder?  If not, purchase one.
  •          Ask the same question if it is a basement apartment: are there two ways out, and is there a window that works?
  •          Are there smoke alarms and do they work?
  •          Tell your student never to disable a smoke alarm!
  •          Are there automatic fire sprinklers?
  •          Find out about cooking safety rules, either in a dorm, or in an apartment. 

When it comes to fire safety on campus, there are three entities involved: (1) the school must ensure that the campus and building environment meets the applicable codes and requirements of state and local building codes.  Also that it meets the policies and procedure requirements regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), relating to fire safety for all students, faculty, and staff.  (2) The local Fire Department should be familiar with the floor plans of the campus and conduct inspections and fire prevention and training.  (3) Each student should be responsible for himself by having a basic awareness of his/her surroundings, and what to do in case of fire or other emergency.  One of the most important lessons all college students must learn is fire safety.  This lesson will stay with them the rest of their lives.  



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