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FairfaxPublic SafetyReturning college students urged to take fire threats seriously

Returning college students urged to take fire threats seriously

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It will soon be back-to-school for most college students. If fire occurred in their dorm or off-campus housing, would they know what to do? Chances are good they would not, as the last fire-safety training they received probably was in elementary school, Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department officials said.

According to a U.S. Fire Administration video, an average of 10 college students die annually in 3,800 campus-related fires in the United States. Four out of five such deaths occur in off-campus housing, where about two-thirds of students live, officials said.

Alcohol abuse is connected with many of the fires, as it impairs judgment and hampers evacuation efforts, authorities said.

Officials recommend that students choose off-campus housing with working smoke alarms and fire sprinklers, which they said reduce the risk of dying in a fire by 82 percent.

About two-thirds of fire-related injuries involving college students stem from cooking. Other prominent causes include careless smoking, arson, unattended candles and overloaded extension cords and power strips.

Officials urge college students to:

• Cook only where permitted and never leave cooking unattended.
• Smoke (if you must) only outside of buildings.
• Not overload electrical outlets.
• Never leave candles unattended and extinguish them after each use.
• Always have an escape plan and practice it.
• Look for an alternate exit in every room, whether in class or at a party.
• Get low to the ground to escape smoke and reach your exit.

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