Alternatively (if we must) . . .
September and October are the top two months for dorm fires – these are also the first couple of months of learning to cook for many college students across the country! It should come as no surprise then that 86% of the 4,100 dormitories, fraternities, sororities, and barracks fires between 2011 and 2015 involved cooking equipment! Sounds like our first safety tip should be to send your kids off into the world AFTER some basic cooking lessons! 🙂
-Make sure your dorm has a sprinkler system and your room has a WORKING smoke detector! Test your smoke detector once a month. If the batteries die, report it to housing immediately!
-Do not mess with the smoke detector! Do not disable it because it doesn’t like your burgeoning cooking skills. Do not remove the cover. Do not take it off the wall or ceiling. Check its batteries once a month and otherwise, LEAVE IT ALONE! It cannot save your life if you have tampered with it!
-If you live on an upper floor, bring an emergency escape ladder so you can escape out your window in case of a fire blocking your door or the stairwell!
-Find out what appliances you are allowed to bring BEFORE you move in! Lots of time, universities put restrictions on the type and size of any appliances you bring from home. Ask about candles, halogen lamps, and other items too! It can seem like a drag, but these are usually based on safety!
-Before you head out for class, the dining hall, or a night cramming at the library, make sure to turn off your appliances! And we’re not just talking about in the kitchen! Don’t forget to unplug your hair straightener, curling iron, or hair dryer either!
–Don’t overload your outlets or power strips either! Overloading power strips is really easy and common but it is also dangerous!
-Don’t cover your light with a scarf or any other material. It might look cool to you but that bulb is actually quite hot and any sort of material resting over it that isn’t supposed to be there is a fire hazard!
-Clean out the dryer lint every time you use the dryer! Be kind and clean it out after you finish your load too – they might not be your clothes but it is your dorm! If someone else has a fire doing laundry, you’ll be effected too!
-Keep your cooking space clear and uncluttered while you are cooking! Make sure nothing flammable is close to the stove.
-Never use cooking appliances when you are drowsy or intoxicated!
-Keep a lid near the stove to stop grease fires – never throw water on a grease fire! Smother it instead!
-Stay in the kitchen while you are cooking! Things go bad quickly in the kitchen in order to save your dinner and maybe yourself, just stay in the kitchen! And pay attention while you’re in there! The time for studying for that huge psych final is not while you’re cooking dinner!
-If a fire does start in the microwave or the oven, keep the appliance door shut. Turn off ovens and unplug microwaves!
-Be careful of what you throw down the garbage chute! Trash chutes are not the place to dispose of chemicals, cigarettes and other smoking materials, combustibles, or anything already on fire! Learn the proper place to dispose of these items on your campus and leave the trash chutes for garbage!
–Use flameless candles instead of real candles with an open flame! Most schools don’t permit real candles anyway! But this way you don’t have to worry about keeping them a safe distance from everything, whether or not your roommate will knock them over while doing their impression of their econ professor, or blowing them out before you leave or sleep!
-Never smoke inside. Just don’t do it! If you smoke, do so in the designated areas AWAY from buildings! And properly dispose of any remains!
-Make sure you know your escape routes! You should always know two ways out of every room! If one stairwell is blocked, where is another that you can use to safely get out? Remember elevators aren’t an option during a fire! Disabled students should contact housing to find out about rescue options during emergencies – moving to a ground floor apartment might be required for safety’s sake!
–Keep hallways and stairwells clear! Your bike should not be stored in the hall or stairwell! It’s not just rude, it’s dangerous! You never know when a fire will break out and your fellow residents will need to evacuate!
-When the fire alarm goes off, do not assume it is a drill or a false alarm! Get out quickly and stay out until the all clear is given! Do not stop to gather up your things! Just grab your keys and go!
-Remember all the basic fire safety tips you were taught during school! Crawl under smoke! Gently touch door handles before opening them to see if they are hot (and fire is behind them!). Close doors behind you to help slow the spread of the fire.
-If you cannot get out during a fire, call for help using your cell phone. Try to get someone’s attention out the window and put a bright piece of fabric out the window so firefighters know which room is yours. Close your door and stuff clothes under any cracks.
Here’s some questions to ask while touring the dorms on those spring college visit days!