Fire safety tips for dorm rooms

September 5, 2017 Providence Health Team

For those of you with college students living away from home, concerns for their safety aren’t unwarranted. Although your child may not ever experience or see fires on campus, the fact that over 70 percent of campus fires occur in both dorm rooms and off-campus housing is worrying. To ease your mind, keep children safe by recommending they fire-proof their dorm or student apartment. There are several easy ways of doing this, although they might require a little research and perhaps a push in the right direction from you.

Ensure that all sprinklers are operational

According to the United States Fire Administration, fire sprinklers were not present in any fatal campus fire during the years 2000 to 2015. As a student, you have the right to ask your school or building superintendent if the sprinklers in the dorms are fully functional. If your student lives off-campus, he or she can check if the apartment’s sprinklers are working by verifying that the water shut off valves are open and the storage tank is full. Also, you may want to perform a flow test quarterly. Do this by opening the flow-test valve and letting the water run. This will trigger your fire alarm. If you don’t feel comfortable performing these tests, contact your landlord or building maintenance.

Check for smoke alarms inside the dorm and in the halls

Smoke alarms should be installed in every dorm room and on every floor. Check with building maintenance to make sure all alarms are connected and working. If students are living in their own apartment, they can perform their own tests monthly by using the preset on the alarm. Remind them never to remove the batteries or disconnect a smoke alarm. Fire fatalities occur when smoke detectors aren’t installed or have been tampered with.

Have an evacuation plan

In case of a fire, you’ll want your college student to be prepared. Create a plan that you both can go over periodically, which includes the smartest and quickest way outside. Most dorms have fire drills, so ensure that your student takes that opportunity to learn the most effective exit route. Students who live off-campus should have at least two ways to exit the house or apartment.

Don’t leave the kitchen while cooking

Distractions happen. Emphasize the importance of staying in the kitchen while cooking, especially when the stove or oven is involved. Most dorms prohibit the use of hot plates, toasters and other appliances to prevent fires, however, this practice is harder to regulate off-campus. Talk to your college student about only cooking when alert, present and most importantly, sober.

Avoid using candles during a power outage

Most dorm rooms will have a backup generator in case of power failure. When experiencing a power outage in an apartment or off-campus house, make sure your student isn’t using candles for visibility. This is extremely dangerous as candles and lanterns can actually accelerate the spread of fire. Opt for the safety of a flashlight or headlamp instead.

Fires don’t just threaten one person. They affect entire residence halls and buildings and the results can be devastating. Keep your college students and their peers safe by spreading the word about fire safety today. Subscribe to our free monthly newsletter for more parenting articles like this!

About the Author

The Providence Health Team brings together caregivers from diverse backgrounds to bring you clinically-sound, data-driven advice to help you live your happiest and healthiest selves.

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