Student Fire Safety

Every year, too many young people experience fire emergencies in college and university residences and off-campus housing. Cooking, smoking material, social gatherings, candles and electrical short circuits are common causes of these fires.

  • Make sure you can hear the building alarm system when you are in your room.
  • If you live in a dormitory, make sure your sleeping room has a smoke alarm, or your dormitory suite has a smoke alarm in each living area as well as the sleeping room. For the best protection, all smoke alarms in the dormitory suite should be interconnected so that when one sounds, they all sound.
  • If you live in an apartment or house, make sure smoke alarms are installed in each sleeping room, outside every sleeping area, and on each level of the apartment unit or house. For the best protection, all smoke alarms in the apartment unit or house should be interconnected so that when one sounds, they all sound.
  • Be alarmed! Test all smoke and carbon monoxide alarms at least once a month.
  • Never remove batteries or disable the alarm.
  • Learn your building’s evacuation plan and practice all drills as if they were the real thing.
  • If you live off campus, have a fire escape plan with two ways out of every room.
  • When the smoke alarm or fire alarm sounds, get out of the building quickly and stay out. Call 911 or the local emergency number once you are safely outside.
  • Prevent cooking fires by being alert. You won't be alert if you are tired, drowsy or have consumed alcohol, cannabis or certain medications.
  • Check your school’s rules before using cooking or electrical appliances in your room.
  • Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
  • If you are simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you’re cooking.
  • Keep things that can catch fire — potholders, oven mitts, paper or plastic bags, curtains — away from your stove top.
  • Wear short, close-fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking. Loose clothing can dangle onto stove burners and can catch fire if it comes in contact with a gas flame or electric burner.
  • Open microwaved food slowly, away from the face. Hot steam from a container of microwaved food or the food itself can cause burns.
  • Treat a burn right away, putting it in cool water. Cool the burn for three to five minutes. Cover with a clean, dry cloth. If the burn is bigger than your fist, or if you have any questions, get medical help right away.

If you have a small grease or oven cooking fire:

  • On the stove top, smother the flames by sliding a lid over the pan and turning off the burner. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.
  • Never pour water or use a fire extinguisher on a cooking pan grease fire!
  • For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed. After a fire, the oven should be checked and/or serviced before being used again.

If you have any doubt, get out!

  • When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire.
  • Call 911 or your local emergency number from outside.
  • Smoking materials include matches, lighters, e-cigarettes, tobacco as well as cannabis.
  • If you smoke or have friends who do, smoke outside and only where it is permitted. Unfortunately, many deaths result from fires that started in living rooms, family rooms and dens or in bedrooms.
  • Use sturdy, deep, non-tip ashtrays to reduce the risk of ashes and cigarette butts falling onto rugs or upholstery. Don’t smoke in bed or when you’ve been drinking or are drowsy.
  • Do not discard cigarettes in vegetation such as mulch, potted plants or landscaping, peat moss, dried grasses, leaves or other things that could ignite easily. 
  • Allow ashes to cool completely before disposing.

Electronic Cigarettes

  • Fires have occurred while e-cigarettes were being used, the battery was being charged, or the device was being transported.
  • Battery failures have led to small explosions.
  • Never leave charging e-cigarettes unattended.
  • E-cigarettes should be used with caution
  • Avoid over-crowding. The more people attending the party, the easier it is to lose control of the situation.
  • When you enter a building, look for all available exits. Some exits may be in front and some in back of you. Be prepared to use your closest exit as you may not be able to use the main exit. 
  • Encourage guests to smoke outside. Consider putting up no smoking signs that direct guests to an outside smoking area.
  • Refrain from burning candles during parties. They can easily be knocked over or ignite nearby combustibles, unnoticed.
  • If an alarm sounds, you see smoke or fire, or some other unusual disturbance immediately exit the building in an orderly fashion.
  • Once you have escaped, stay out. Under no circumstances should you ever go back into a burning building. Let trained firefighters conduct rescue operations.
  • Burn candles only if the school permits their use. Consider using battery-operated or flameless candles.
  • A candle is an open flame and should be placed away from anything that can burn.
  • Never leave a candle unattended. Blow it out when you leave the room or go to sleep.
  • Only use one heat-producing appliance (such as a coffee maker, toaster, space heater, etc.) plugged into a receptacle outlet at a time.
  • Major appliances (refrigerators, dryers, washers, stoves, air conditioners, microwave ovens, etc.) should be plugged directly into a wall receptacle outlet. Extension cords and plug strips should not be used.
  • Check electrical cords to make sure they are not running across doorways or under carpets. Extension cords are intended for temporary use.
  • You do not need a flame to start a fire. Fires can start when heat builds up near things that burn. This can happen when a hot light bulb is near things that burn, such as cloth or paper, or a cord has been placed under a carpet.
  • Use a light bulb with the right number of watts. There should be a sticker that indicates the right number of watts.

Call a qualified electrician or your landlord if you have:

  • Frequent problems with blowing fuses or tripping circuit breakers
  • A tingling feeling when you touch an electrical appliance
  • Discolored or warm wall outlets
  • A burning or rubbery smell coming from an appliance
  • Flickering or dimming lights
  • Sparks from an outlet