Fire Safety Tips for Students

Every year, too many young people experience fire emergencies in college residences and off-campus housing.
Smoking material, cooking, candles and electrical short circuits are common causes of these fires.
Educating post-secondary students about fire safety and prevention helps reduce the loss of life and property.


Cooking is a major cause of home fires in B.C. If your accommodation has cooking facilities, there are some basic fire safety rule s to follow to prevent cooking fires:

  • A stovetop fire can start in a flash, so stay in the kitchen when something is cooking on the stove or in the microwave
  • Keep all combustible items a safe distance away from the stove. This includes tea towels, wooden or plastic spoons and paper towels
  • Keep a pot lid near the stove to smother flames if a fire starts in a pot

Social Gatherings

While most student parties are harmless fun, alcohol consumption combined with cooking or smoking can create a serious fire risk.

To minimize fire risk during or after parties:

  • Avoid over-crowding. The more people attending the party, the easier it is to lose control of the situation
  • 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


Even if you don’t smoke, chances are you may have friends who do. To prevent smoking fires:

  • Encourage smokers to go outside
  • Keep large, deep ashtrays on hand to reduce the risk of ashes and cigarette butts falling onto rugs or upholstery
  • Allow ashes to cool completely before disposing

Electrical Equipment

Overloaded circuits and octopus wiring are dangerous electrical hazards that can be avoided. To prevent fires caused by electrical equipment:

  • Use a ULC-listed power bar with a circuit breaker and surge protector to plug in computer and stereo equipment
  • Avoid the use of extension cords as permanent wiring
  • Make sure electrical cords are not concealed under carpets or rugs where they can be easily damaged


To prevent candle fires:

  • Always use non-combustible containers for tea lights and candles, or consider using a hurricane lamp
  • Place the candles in a location where they can’t be knocked over or come in contact with combustible items, such as curtains
  • Blow out all candles before leaving the room or going to bed

Smoke Alarms

It is critical to have working smoke alarms in all homes - if a fire does occur, a working alarm will be able to alert you as soon as possible.

  • The responsibility for smoke alarm installation and maintenance is with the homeowner or landlord. However, it is a good idea for parents to provide their child with a smoke alarm for his or her bedroom
  • It is against the law for anyone to disable or tamper with a smoke alarm
  • If a smoke alarm activates because of steam from the shower or cooking on the stove, oven or toaster, ask the landlord to move the alarm to a different location, or to install a smoke alarm with a pause feature

Fire Escape Planning

When the smoke alarm sounds, everyone must know what to do and where to go. Develop a fire escape plan, keeping the following in mind:

  • Know two ways out of every room, if possible. The first way out is the door while the alternate route could be a window that can be exited safely. Make sure all designated escape routes are accessible and free of clutter
  • Leave the building as quickly as possible. Once outside, don’t re-enter the building for any reason
  • Call 9-1-1 from outside the building using a cell phone or a neighbours’ phone