How to Prevent a College Dorm Fire

College dorms are one of the most vulnerable spots for fires, an enclosed space that’s often filled with electrical equipment and a number of fire hazards. While college dorm fire safety training is usually a part of residence programs, many college students overlook potentially dangerous objects and situations that lead to fires, injury, and even death. The National Fire Protection Association estimates that fires in college dorms has almost doubled in recent years; 1,800 fires were reported in 1998, and 3,300 were reported in 2005. A college dorm fire is most commonly caused by unattended appliances and cooking equipment. Fire safety is critical in these small spaces; here are a few tips on preventing a college dorm fire:

1. Never leave a hot plate unattended. According to the NFPA, cooking equipment causes 72% of college dorm fires, so it’s very important to cook and then unplug the equipment right away.

2. Avoid using portable heaters. Small heaters do help in warming up a frigid dorm room, but the risk of combustion can make these a dangerous addition to the college dorm. Make use of blankets, down comforters, and as few heating appliances as possible.

3. Avoid electrical overload. Power strips and extension cords are highly combustible and can cause many electrical injuries if they are not used correctly. Use as few power strips as possible.

4. Don’t leave Christmas lights on. Many college students decorate the drom room with Christmas lights and other string lights. It’s best to unplug these when no-one is in the room.

5. Don’t cover the smoke alarm. Decorations and even furniture that end up covering the smoke alarm are a dangerous choice. Make sure the smoke alarm has fresh batteries and is operational at all times.

6. Don’t leave candles or incense burning all night. Make sure you blow out any flames before going to sleep, and never leave these decorations burning unattended.

7. Don’t smoke! Not only are you breaking the non-smoking policy at the dorm, but you are creating a fire hazard. Make sure you’re smoking in a designated area and avoid a potential disaster.

8. Keep that halogen lamp in a safe spot. Halogen lamps are one of the leading sources of dorm fires, and need to be kept upright and clear of debris and decorations at all times. Be conscientious about the placement of your lamp.

College dorm fires can easily be prevented with careful decorating and being even more careful with electrical products. Make use of any of these tips to prevent a college dorm fire on your campus.

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