Each year college and university students living both on and off campus are involved in devastating fires.
A recent report from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) revealed that from 2007-2011, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated annual average of 3,810 structure fires in dormitories, fraternities, sororities, and barracks.
The NFPA report also identified September and October as peak months for fires in college housing. To bring attention to this important issue, Gov. Bill Haslam has declared September as “Campus Fire Safety Month.”
“Overall, most college-based fires are due to a general lack of knowledge about fire safety and prevention,” State Fire Marshal Julie Mix McPeak said. “It is crucial that both off-campus and on-campus students understand fire risks and know the preventative measures that could save their lives.”
Murfreesboro Fire & Rescue Department wants to make sure that college students in Murfreesboro are prepared for fire emergencies on campus.
“With Middle Tennessee State University in the heart of our community, it is important for us to promote campus fire safety to local students,” said Assistant Fire Marshal Tracy Summar.
Safety Tips for Students
• Try to avoid using lighted candles! Scented, flameless candles are available and much safer.
• Do not leave lit candles unattended. Blow them out when you leave the room or go to sleep.
• Keep lit candles three feet away from anything that can burn, including curtains and linens.
• During a power outage, use a flashlight.
• Cook only where it is permitted.
• Keep your cooking area clean and uncluttered.
• Never leave food cooking unattended. Stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling, or broiling.
• Cook only when you are alert, not sleepy or drowsy from medicine or alcohol.
• If a fire starts in a microwave, keep the door closed and unplug the unit.
• Check with your local fire department for any restrictions before using a barbeque grill, fire pit, or chimenea.
• Make sure the electrical appliances you use are approved by your school or building manager and don't overload circuits.
• If you must smoke, smoke outside. (If you would like to quit smoking, the Tennessee Department of Health offers free help. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW.)
• Wherever you smoke, use deep, sturdy, non-tip ashtrays. If ashtrays are not available, use a metal can or pail. Place the ashtrays or metal cans away from anything that can burn, including the arms of sofas or chairs.
• Before you throw out butts and ashes, make sure they are fully extinguished. Extinguish them in water or sand. Never toss hot cigarette butts or ashes in the trash.
• Do not throw out cigarettes into vegetation, potted plants or landscaping, peat moss, dried grasses, mulch, leaves, and other similar items – these can catch fire easily.
• After a party, check for cigarette butts, especially under cushions. Chairs and sofas catch on fire fast and burn fast.
• Be alert – don't smoke in bed or a comfortable chair where you tend to doze! If you are sleepy or have been drinking, put your cigarette out first before getting cozy.
• If you live in a residence hall, make sure the room you sleep in has a smoke alarm and that you can hear it.
• If you live in an apartment or house, make sure working smoke alarms are installed. For best protection, smoke alarms should be installed in each sleeping room, outside every sleeping area, and on each level of the apartment unit or house.
• Test smoke alarms in your apartment or rental home at least monthly.
• Never remove or disable the alarm.
• If you live on campus, learn your building’s evacuation plan and practice all drills as if they were the real thing.
• If you live off campus, have a fire escape plan with two ways out of every room and a designated common meeting place outside.
• When the smoke alarm or fire alarm sounds, get out of the building quickly and stay out.
• If you have to escape through smoke, get low and go under the smoke quickly to your exit.
• Feel the door before you attempt to open it and if it is hot, use your second way out.
• Never use an elevator during a fire.
• If you are trapped, close all doors between you and the fire. Use rags or towels to seal the door cracks and cover air vents to keep smoke from coming in. If possible, open your windows at the top and bottom so fresh air can get in. Call the fire department to report your exact location and wave a flashlight or light-colored cloth out the window to let the fire department know where you are located.
• If you have a disability, alert others of the type of assistance you need to leave the building.
For more information on campus fire safety, please contact Murfreesboro Fire & Rescue Department at 615-893-1422 or the State Fire Marshal’s Office at 615-253-8941.