Five Tips for Better Fire Safety for Living Off-Campus
Moving off-campus is when most students get to prove that they’re ready to live on their own.
That means dealing with landlords, keeping an apartment clean, buying your own groceries. The list of new responsibilities goes on and on.
In all the chaos, it can be easy to forget to take care of one critical thing: fire safety.
And it’s pretty hard to say you’re ready to live on your own when your apartment’s on fire.
Why fire safety off-campus is so important
For starters, roughly 94 percent of college fires occur in off-campus housing.
When you’re living on campus, fire safety is all taken care of by the housing staff. Your dorm had sprinklers, the smoke detectors all worked and you had plenty of fire drills to remind you how to walk calmly away from flames.
Off-campus? That’s basically all on you.
And most students are going to be uninformed on this topic.
The good news is that fire safety is mostly common sense. To keep your room flame-free you just have to add a few extra items to your move-in checklist.
First things first
Let’s start with the easy stuff.
Fire safety is a lot less stressful if you’re a little more thorough when looking for a place to live. You don’t want to get caught up in the excitement of apartment or house tours and forget to account for your own safety.
So make sure to clear a few things with possible landlords.
- Are there sprinklers and fire alarms? How often do you test and do maintenance on them?
- Where are the smoke alarms?
- Are fire extinguishers provided?
- How often does the fire marshal inspect the site?
- What are the escape routes?
Five questions. And you’ve already done more to ensure your safety than most off-campus students.
Making your new home safer
It’d be nice if every place you looked at had stellar answers to all those questions, but the reality is you will have to be a part of not lighting your room on fire.
Not every apartment and definitely not every house you’re looking at is going to have residential fire sprinklers installed. Thankfully, installing them yourself is super easy, way cheaper than you think and will bring down your insurance premiums.
In fact, most of the reasons people give for not installing sprinklers are based on misinformation.
Fire sprinklers are easy to install and seriously protect your home from fires. Setting a few up in your home – even one – is the best action you can take right away to make your place safer.
You should know where you’re living.
When you’re on the phone with 911 trying to direct them to where you’re staying, knowing “how to get there” won’t be enough. Knowing the address of your apartment or house helps you – and the fire department – get there on time.
Being aware includes more than just your address. Knowing your fire exits is also critical to prevent panic and get out safely in case of a fire.
Preferably, you should have found these out from your landlord early on. But, if not, just take five minutes when you’ve moved in to look around and jot down your exits.
And once you’ve noted those exits, keep them free and clear. No one likes a fire hazard.
Avoid setting things on fire
Now that you’ve installed fire sprinklers and know your address and exits, fire safety is about being smart and avoiding dangerous, flammable actions.
Make sure to replace the batteries in your smoke alarm. In roughly 58 percent of fatal college fires, smoke alarms had been tampered with. It’s not worth it just to smoke in your room or fit more food onto your grill.
A significant amount of fatal college fires also involve smoking and cooking. During many of these incidents, the person was also drunk or tired.
You should never handle a flame when you can’t handle yourself.
Fire safety is really just common sense. As long as you keep it on your radar when making the move, you’re on the right path to a year of exciting new experiences that don’t include calling the fire department.