10 College Fire Safety Tips You Need to Know

It’s National Campus Fire Safety month! Whether you live on or off campus, fire is a real danger in college housing – particularly in September and October. In honor of this month, take a moment to review these fire safety tips as you settle into your new college housing for the year. A few minutes spent familiarizing yourself with the features of your new building can go a long way to help protect you, and spending the time to review these tips could save your life.

  1. Make sure you know two different exits out of your building. In case one way is blocked, make sure you know two ways out. This can include a fire escape, so be sure to check the exterior of your building for one. If there is only one way out, consider purchasing a fire ladder to use in the case of an emergency. You should familiarize yourself with your two routes – if ever you needed to escape during a fire, you would likely encounter limited visibility. Look for landmarks along the route, and consider practicing. You may feel silly crawling down your residence hall floor, but it could help you make a safe exit in the event of an emergency.
  2. Check your building for smoke detectors. Look around your apartment building or residence hall to ensure that there is a smoke detector inside your bedroom and one outside your sleeping area. Call your landlord or utilities services if either is missing.
  3. Ensure all smoke detectors are in working order. Test the fire alarms in your unit to make sure they are in good working order and haven’t been disabled. Replace batteries if needed, and be sure to replace the batteries at least once a year.
  4. NEVER disable a smoke detector. This puts you at unnecessary risk and is never a good idea. Your smoke detector is your first line of defense if there is a fire in your home.
  5. If you live in your school’s residence halls, check for restricted appliances and electronics. And listen. These items are prohibited in the residence halls because they are known fire hazards.
  6. Locate any fire extinguishers in the building. Many schools and apartment buildings provide smoke detectors. Make sure you know where yours is in case of a cooking fire or small fire. If your building doesn’t provide one, consider purchasing one to keep in your apartment. And make sure you know how to use it!
  7. Treat any drills or “false alarms” like a true emergency. Burning popcorn happens (frequently) in residence halls. Even if it seems like a false alarm or a microwave mix up, any time smoke detectors start to go off in your building, get out fast. Even if it is just a drill, it’s good to get practice in your new space. You never know when you could face a real emergency.
  8. Figure out what you would want to take with you now. This will save you valuable time in the event of an emergency. Getting out of the building quickly and safely is your top priority, so items you would want to bring with you should be small and on your person or very easy to grab on your way out. If you are worried about some of your bigger ticket items, like your flatscreen TV, see tip #8.
  9. Take an inventory of your belongings in case of fire damage. Taking an inventory will help you remember what you have, and make it easier to replace your items if they’ve been damaged by a fire. By taking an inventory, you will be better able to prove what you’ve lost to your insurance company in the event of a claim. Get started with our printable inventory worksheet or visit KnowYourStuff.org to create a full inventory. If you don’t have insurance, check to see if you qualify under your parent’s homeowners insurance, or consider renters insurance.
  10. Check your renters insurance policy for loss of use coverage. If you have renters insurance, be sure to check if it includes loss of use protection. This feature will pay for temporary accommodations if your living space is made uninhabitable by fire damage. Where would you go if you couldn’t stay in your apartment or dorm room? These students had to sleep on a bus when a fire wrecked their residence hall. If you don’t have renters insurance, consider a plan with this feature. Be sure to check your insurance for any restrictions on this coverage.