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College Fire Damage Preparedness and Education
By the RestorationSOS Educational Staff
Colleges and universities experience fire-related emergencies on a growing basis. The fires may occur for a variety of reasons, but most of them could be avoided or minimized through proper education and preparation. Most fire fatalities on college campuses are alcohol-related, with more than 50% of adult fire-related deaths on college campuses involving victim who were under the influence. Cooking accidents are the leading cause of fire injuries on campus, followed by smoking and arson.
Whenever a college fire occurs, there is almost always a perfect storm of circumstances that result in the fire being worse than it ever had to be, such as improper use of 911 emergency lines, which delays emergency response. Evacuations aren't usually planned out, resulting in disorganization and chaos, and smoke alarms and fire alarms may often be vandalized or misused.
The good news is that fire damage and personal injury on college campuses may be easily curtailed if a few common sense precautions are taken, such as providing students with a program for fire safety and prevention as well as teaching them how to properly use 911 to notify authorities in case of a fire which includes the right way to report their dorm address.
Steps to Take to Prepare for a Fire
Smoke alarms should be installed in every dormitory room and on every level of the dorm. Someone should be responsible for checking and replacing these alarm batteries every six months or so. Alarms should be routinely tested, not just in conjunction with planned fire evacuation drills.
Dorms should have a "fire marshal", somebody who regularly inspects rooms for fire hazards such as overloaded electrical outlets, blocked exits, etc. All exits should be clearly marked and unobstructed. Deaths occur every year from people who found an exit but weren't able to get through it.
Fire drills should be conducted, at least once a semester, and rooms inspected to make sure everyone actually got out. Students should be urged to take these drills seriously.
Many students use hotplates or other cooking appliances in their rooms. Make sure everyone knows how to properly use such devices in a manner that does not present a fire threat.
Have someone on each hall assigned to check rooms following a drill or evacuation, making sure everyone heeds the warning. Students should also be trained on the proper use of fire extinguishers and familiar with where these units are located throughout the building.