BRIDGEWATER — The Bridgewater Fire Department would like to remind students how to avoid fire dangers in their dorms and apartments as they return to campus this fall.
From January 2000 to May 2015, there were 85 fatal fires in dormitories, fraternities, sororities and off-campus housing, resulting in 118 fatalities — an average of approximately seven per school year, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.
Of these fires, a majority (70%) occurred over the weekend with most occurring between midnight and 6 a.m. Leading causes of campus housing fires include cooking, careless smoking, unattended candles and overloaded extension cords, power strips or outlets.
The most effective fire prevention measure is the use of fire alarms and sprinklers. Fire alarms keep residents safe by warning them of a potential fire. Sprinkler systems can help to control the fire immediately, often extinguishing the fire or greatly limiting a fire’s ability to spread.
The Bridgewater Fire Department also reminds students that alcohol or drugs and fires don’t mix. These substances increase your chance of falling asleep while cooking or while a candle is lit and limit your ability to respond to an alarm.
To prevent accidents and injuries, the following safety tips are recommended for students by the USFA:
- Cook only where it is allowed.
- Keep your cooking area clean and free of anything that can burn.
- Keep an eye on what you are cooking, especially if you are cooking at high temperatures.
- If a fire starts in a microwave, keep the door closed and unplug the unit.
- Place candles in sturdy holders.
- Never leave a burning candle unattended.
- Keep candles away from anything that can burn.
- Consider using safe flameless candles.
- Make sure cigarettes and ashes are out. Never toss hot cigarette butts or ashes in the trash can.
- Use deep, wide ashtrays. Place ashtrays on something sturdy and hard to burn.
- After a party, check for cigarette butts, especially under cushions. Chairs and sofas catch on fire fast and burn fast.
- Don’t smoke when you have been drinking or are drowsy.
- Keep lamps, light fixtures, and light bulbs away from anything that can burn.
- Never use an extension cord with large appliances, like a refrigerator.
- Do not overload outlets.
- Use only surge protectors or power strips that have internal overload protection.
Additional Safety Tips:
- Never disable or remove batteries from smoke alarms.
- Don’t hang things on or cover fire sprinklers. This can affect their ability to work properly.
- Always know two ways out, no matter where you are. Plan and practice your escape routes.
- Leave immediately, closing doors behind you, and knock on roommates’ and neighbors’ doors as you exit.
- Once you’re out, stay out! Never go back inside a building until it is cleared and determined safe.
As always, the Bridgewater Fire Department wishes college students a safe return to campus!