With and other Maryland universities kicking off their fall semesters this week, the Maryland Fire Marshal offered steps to keep student safe from fires on and off campus.
An estimated 86 percent of fire deaths occur in off-campus apartments and homes, which is where three-fourths of college students live, Maryland Fire
Marshal William E. Barnard said.
Many fatal fires involving college students have four common elements:
- Missing or disabled smoke alarms.
- Careless disposal of smoking materials.
- Alcohol consumption.
- A lack of automatic sprinkler systems.
Barnard offered safety tips for both parents and students when heading off to college:
- Check for the proper installation of working smoke alarms. These devices provide early warning no matter where the fire starts, giving students more chance for escape.
- Test smoke alarms monthly and replace the batteries as needed.
- Look for housing that is equipped with automatic sprinkler systems. Not every residence hall or rental property has them.
- Know at least two ways out of every room and the building.
- If smoking is allowed, designate an area outside. Properly dispose of smoking materials in sturdy ashtrays and ensure they are completely extinguished. Just in case, always check cushions in chairs and sofas for smoldering cigarettes.
- If using extension cords, use only approved laboratory listed cords such as UL, and don’t overload the electrical outlets.
- Consider using flameless candles or battery operated lights instead of regular wax candles.
- If using regular candles, never leave them or other open flame type devices unattended and keep combustibles away from their location at all times. Always extinguish the flame prior to leaving the room.
- Cooking should only occur in permitted locations. Never leave cooking food unattended.
- If using a barbeque grill, fire pit, chimnea or other outdoor open flame device, check out the local regulations beforehand. When these items are used improperly, an enjoyable time can quickly turn into a tragedy.