State fire marshall urges fire safety for college students

Published: Aug. 24, 2018 at 1:54 PM EDT
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For many parents, this time of year equals the annual moving-into-college time.

One thing that LARA, the state Licensing and Regulatory Affairs office wants everyone to have on their move-in checklist is fire safety.

“Having working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, along with knowing and practicing an escape plan are the most important factors in keeping college students safe,” said State Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer. “Students need to ensure that where they are living is equipped with properly working smoke alarms, that they are tested monthly and have fresh batteries. Smoke alarms must never be tampered with.”

This is important for students living on or off-campus.

According to Sehlmeyer, common factors in fires include: lack of a fire sprinkler system; missing or not working smoke alarms; careless smoking; unattended candles; overloaded electrical circuits and extension cords; alcohol consumption which impairs judgment and hampers fire evacuation efforts; and fires originating on upholstered furniture and decks or porches.

They provide these fire safety tips for all college students:

• Know all emergency exits and have two ways out … of a dorm, movie theater, nightclub.

• Use stairs to get out, not elevators.

• Most fatal fires happen at night. Get up, get out and stay out.

• Don’t allow smoking inside a dorm room. NEVER smoke in bed.

• Make sure cigarettes and ashes are out. After a party, check for smoldering cigarette butts, especially under cushions. Chairs and sofas catch on fire fast and burn fast.

• Never leave a lit candle unattended. Keep candles away from curtains, furniture, bedding and papers. Extinguish all candles when leaving the room or going to bed.

• Don’t use the stove or oven to help heat a cold dorm room or apartment.

• Keep space heaters away from anything flammable and never leave them unattended.

• Keep a fire extinguisher close by and know how to use it.

• Plug microwave ovens or other cooking appliances directly into an outlet. Never use an extension cord for a cooking appliance as it can overload the circuit and cause a fire.

• If a fire starts in a microwave, keep the door closed and unplug the unit.

• Don’t overload electrical outlets, power strips and extension cords.

• Use a surge protector for a computer and plug the protector directly into an outlet.