Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Campus Fire Safety

With students headed back to school, it would be prudent to take a moment and discuss the issue of campus fire safety.

Each year college and university students, on- and off-campus, experience hundreds of fire-related emergencies nationwide. There are several specific causes for fires on college campuses: cooking, intentionally set fires, and open flame. Overall, most college-related fires are due to a general lack of knowledge about fire safety and prevention. The great majority of student fire deaths occur in off-campus housing that lacks insufficient exits, missing or inoperative smoke alarms, and automatic fire sprinklers. Also, use of candles, careless smoking habits, and the misuse of alcohol – which impairs judgment and hampers evacuation efforts – contribute to off-campus housing fire deaths.

Colleges and universities are busy preparing for the arrival of new residents to their campus communities. Some will be first year students moving into the residence halls. Other arriving students will be moving off-campus and living on their own, some for the first time. For most of these students, the last fire safety training they received was in grade school; but with new independence comes new responsibilities. It is important that both off-campus and on-campus students understand fire risks and know the preventative measures that could save their lives.

In cases where fire fatalities have occurred on college campuses, alcohol was a factor. There is a strong link between alcohol and fire deaths. In more than 50% of adult fire fatalities, victims were under the influence at the time of the fire. Alcohol abuse often impairs judgment and hampers evacuation efforts.

Many factors contribute to the problem of dormitory housing fires, including;
*Improper use of 911 notification systems delays emergency response.
*Student apathy is prevalent. Many are unaware that fire is a risk or threat in the environment.
*Evacuation efforts are hindered since fire alarms are often ignored.
*Building evacuations are delayed due to lack of preparation and pre-planning.
*Vandalized and improperly maintained smoke alarms and fire alarm systems inhibit early detection of fires.
*Misuse of cooking appliances, overloaded electrical circuits, and extension cords increase the risk of fires.

Remember, fire does not discriminate. Stay fire safe wherever you are.


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