pexels photo 103592CHAMPAIGN – As students return to campus for the fall semester, Senate Higher Education Chair Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is joining the Office of the State Fire Marshal and the National Fire Protection Association to offer tips to students to help prevent common campus fires and reduce fire hazards.

“With students returning to campus after being home for much of last year, and many of them being on their own for the first time, it’s extremely important for them to review fire safety tips to learn how to prevent fires,” Bennett said. “The more prepared students are, the better we can reduce fire risk.”

According to the NFPA, fires in student housing cause an average of one death, 32 injuries and $15 million dollars in property damage each year. Three out of four of those fires begin in the kitchen. The likelihood for a fire is greatest on the weekends and on weekdays from 5 to 9 p.m. Since January 2000, at least 175 people, including students, parents and children, have died in college-related fires, with seven of those fatalities occurring here in Illinois.

Students are encouraged to keep these fire safety tips in mind when choosing a residence and living on or off campus:

  • Look for housing on and off campus that has sprinklers.
  • Make sure that you can hear the building’s fire alarm system.
  • Check to make sure all sleeping rooms and common areas have functioning smoke alarms. For optimal protection, all smoke alarms in the home should be interconnected so that when one sounds, they all sound.
  • Never remove batteries or disable a smoke alarm.
  • Test all smoke alarms at least monthly.
  • If you live off campus, have a fire escape plan with two ways out of every room.
  • Learn the building’s evacuation plan and practice all drills as if they were the real thing.
  • When the smoke alarm or carbon monoxide alarm sounds, exit the building quickly and stay out until given instructions to return.
  • If you smoke, smoke outside and only in designated areas.
  • Never leave the kitchen when cooking.
  • Check with your local fire department, building management or campus office before using a barbecue grill or fire pit.
  • Never overload electrical outlets, and check with the school to find out what electrical appliances are allowed.

For more information about campus fire safety, students, parents and other residents are encouraged to visit OSFM’s website.

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