A massive fire that consumed a dorm building at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa last week reminds us of the importance of practicing fire safety in dorms and other college housing.
All 41 of the building occupants managed to escape uninjured, but the early-morning fire, which officials say was likely caused by a lightning strike, forced the university to hastily relocate the students to temporary housing.
Fire safety can be the last thing on a college student’s mind. But according to National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) statistics, fires in dormitories, fraternities, sororities and student barracks increased 24 percent from 3,350 fires in 2003 to 4,160 fires in 2013. A majority of these incidents were caused by cooking equipment, with many others resulting from unattended candles or electrical problems.
To combat the problem of on-campus fires, NFPA offers safety tips for those living in dorm buildings. These include:
- Learning your building’s evacuation plan and practicing all drills as if they were the real thing
- Never tampering with your room’s smoke alarms or removing the batteries
- Staying in the kitchen at all times when cooking
- Using a surge protector for your computer and plugging the protector directly into an outlet
In addition, students who live off campus should make sure their residence is fulling sprinklered and has smoke alarms inside each bedroom, outside every sleeping area and on each level. Simple measures like these will optimize student safety, and give parents one less thing to worry about!