August 29, 2013 – In a report released today by National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), September and October were identified as peak months for fires in college housing. According to the report “Structure Fires in Dormitories, Fraternities, Sororities, and Barracks,” in 2007-2011, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated annual average of 3,810 structure fires in dormitories, fraternities, sororities, and barracks. “As college students settle into housing at school or off-campus, reviewing safety tips is a valuable way for them to remember what actions can be taken to prevent fire and how they can prepare to escape if one occurs,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of communications. “Being sure that smoke alarms are working, and having and practicing a fire escape plan is vital.”
Roughly 70 percent of fires in dormitories, fraternities, sororities, and barracks began in the kitchen or cooking area. Seven percent of fires started in the bedroom, but these fires were responsible for 27 percent of injuries and 21 percent of property damage. The report also noted that fires are most common in the evening hours, between 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. and on weekends.
“Most cooking fires happen when cooking is left unattended. By choosing to stay in the kitchen while cooking, students can reduce their risk of having a cooking fire,” added Carli.
NFPA offers safety tips for college students living in on- or off-campus housing:
- Look for fully sprinklered housing when choosing a dorm or off-campus housing.
- Make sure your dormitory or apartment has smoke alarms inside each bedroom, outside every sleeping area and on each level. For the best protection, all smoke alarms should be interconnected so that when one sounds they all sound.
- Test all smoke alarms at least monthly.
- Never remove batteries or disable smoke alarms.
- 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.
- Cook only where it is permitted.
- Stay in the kitchen when cooking.
- Cook only when you are alert, not sleepy or drowsy from medicine or alcohol.
- Check your school’s rules before using electrical appliances in your room.
- Use a surge protector for your computer and plug the protector directly into an outlet.
Visit www.nfpa.org/campussafety for more information and resources, including a free downloadable Fire Safety Checklist developed especially for college students.
About the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
NFPA is a worldwide leader in fire, electrical, building, and life safety. The mission of the international nonprofit organization founded in 1896 is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training, and education. NFPA develops more than 300 codes and standards to minimize the possibility and effects of fire and other hazards. All NFPA codes and standards can be viewed at no cost at www.nfpa.org/freeaccess.