Fire Safety Information For Young Adults And College Students

Preparation
According to the National Fire Protection Association, there are approximately 3,800 university housing fires each year, which factors out to a rate of about one fire per university campus in the United States. Information compiled by Campus Firewatch adds that 86% of campus-related fire fatalities in the nation since 2000 have occurred in off-campus housing. Considering these startling statistics, students should always be mindful of the risk of fire when moving into any new residence. The same goes for young adults who live in apartments, and may not be studying at college. Young adults and students alike should take measures to prevent fires from occurring, while also still being prepared for the possibility.

It is important to know the best exit routes to use in the event of a fire. In a dorm or apartment building, residents should be mindful of the locations of the nearest stairwells and exterior exit options. Fire escapes should be used as a “worst case scenario” alternative, only when they cannot safely exit the building through another route. Residents should also remember to never use an elevator if there is a fire. Knowing exit routes ahead of time is vital to ensure that one can evacuate from a burning building as quickly as possible. Often, smoke from a fire will limit visibility, so young adults should take care to know the routes well in case it is difficult to see what lies ahead.

While many university housing facilities conduct fire drills, it should never be assumed that a fire alarm is only indicating a drill. Making this assumption can be extremely dangerous. In any event, when a fire alarm goes off, it is important to leave the building as quickly as possible. Because of this, it can be easy to forget to bring important items like keys and wallet. It is helpful for residents to form good habits like leaving their wallet, keys, and jacket by the front door.

Prevention
While young adults should always be prepared for fires, there are some measures they can take to reduce their risk. The National Fire Protection Association reports that cooking equipment is involved in over 75% of campus fires. An easy way to keep this from happening is to always monitor cooking, and to remember to unplug cooking equipment and to turn off ovens or stoves when they are done being used.

The National Fire Protection Association also reports that 62% of civilian deaths and 26% of civilian injuries from dorm fires begin in bedrooms. Campus housing facilities can have strict rules about use of appliances and candles in dorm rooms, and it is important to always follow their regulations. Regardless of whether or not candles are permitted, it is still not a good idea to use them. Flameless candles are great alternatives that provide the same ambiance, but without the risk of fire. Residents with a lot of appliances and electronics should be mindful of the fact that if extension cords aren’t grounded, they run the risk of starting a fire. Surge protectors are recommended to combat this risk.

Finally, it is important for residents to make sure that there is a working smoke detector in their dorm or apartment. If they find that there is not, they should contact a residence director or landlord immediately.

Taking preventative measures and being prepared for fires is important, but there can always be circumstances outside of one’s control. In the event of a fire, renters insurance can be a valuable asset to have. When a fire nearly destroyed a 188-bed residence building at Warren Wilson College in 2000, the average loss per student was over $15,000 (2006 University Business Article). Keeping a figure like this in mind, it is understandable why some opt for renters insurance. It will often cover the loss of personal belongings due to fires and natural disasters, as well as provide displacement coverage. Just some of the items that can be covered after loss from fire are electronics, school supplies, clothing, musical instruments, and bicycles.

To learn more about the value of renters insurance for young adults and college students, refer to this brief video from GradGuard.

To learn more about the risks young adults and students may face, please visit our blog. If you have questions about insurance, check out our FAQs and glossary for more information.