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College safety

College living can undoubtedly be exciting. For most students attending schools outside of their home town or state, it's their first opportunity to be independent. For many students, this is the first time they are away from their homes, families and friends for any significant period. While college provides new and exciting opportunities, it also introduces a myriad of new safety hazards, especially to students living in dormitories, apartments and other community locations.

Although a student may have been the safest person in their school, house or neighborhood, an impeccable safety record doesn't safeguard someone against the actions of other residents in shared college housing facilities. Therefore, it is extremely important to develop and practice an escape route should there be a fire.

Fire safety

Fire is the third leading cause of accidental deaths in the United States. A residential fire occurs every 82 seconds in this country, and once burning, the size of a fire doubles every 30 seconds. If a fire should occur in your building, evacuate as soon as possible. Do not try to act bravely or put the fire out. That is a fight too easily lost, and is just not worth it.  

If you have an escape plan, follow it at the first sign or smell of a fire. Never exit a door if it feels hot to the touch, as flames are likely on the other side. It is also a good idea to know where all the fire extinguishers are located in the building.

Fire prevention

In community living facilities, everyone must do their part to make their dwelling a safer place. Here are a few easy steps you can take to help prevent fire through electrical hazards:

  • Look for the UL Mark on all products. It means samples of the product have been tested for safety.
  • Make sure outlets are not overloaded.
  • Check electrical wires and cords on appliances, tools, lamps, etc., to make sure they are not worn or frayed.
  • Never run electrical wires or extension cords under carpets or heavy items, and never bunch them up behind a hot appliance.
  • Unplug appliances when not in use.
  • Have building management install at least one smoke alarm on each level, and make sure they are maintained and tested regularly.

Fire facts

Fire is a chemical reaction involving fuel, oxygen and heat. Take away any of these three elements and a fire cannot last. There are four classifications of fires dependent on their fuels:

  • Class A -- Ordinary materials like wood, paper, cloth, rubber and plastics. Most home fires fall into this category.
  • Class B -- Combustible liquids such as gasoline, kerosene, alcohol, paint and propane. These tend to be more severe and dangerous than Class A fires because the liquid fuel is highly flammable and can propagate easily.
  • Class C -- Electrical equipment like appliances, switches and power tools. These fires are extremely dangerous due to added shock hazards and because the source is energized. An energized fire source supplies a steady and constant ignition condition.
  • Class D -- Combustible metals like magnesium, titanium, potassium and sodium. These fires burn at a very high temperature and can react violently with water or other chemicals.