Campus and dorm fires can place college students in life-threatening danger. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) states that roughly 3,780 dorm fires were reported in 2011. College students should practice continuous fire safety techniques and remain alert and aware of potential hazards. Additionally, students should be familiar with evacuation plans and fire safety protocol in their college dorms and campuses.

Causes of Campus and Dorm Fires

Campus and dorm fires are commonly caused by conditions such as cooking, open flames, and overloaded power strips. Arson and intentional controlled fires within dorm and campus locations may also lead to unintentional or uncontrolled fire spread. A large number of deaths during campus and dorm fires occur within individuals with high blood alcohol content levels. Alcohol consumption is known to increase unsafe fire practices and decrease the ability to respond safely and quickly when a fire occurs.

Campus and Dorm Fire Statistics

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), campus and dorm fires have increased 18 percent from 1980 to 2011. The NFPA data reveals that only 7 percent of these fires started in dorms or bedrooms. However, these bedroom fires accounted for 27 percent of injuries that occurred. Campus and dorm fires have been observed to occur most commonly between 5 p.m. and 11 p.m., and on weekends as well. Roughly 84 percent of these reported dormitory fires involved cooking equipment.

Damage from Dorm Fires

From 2007 to 2011, an estimated 3,810 dormitory, sorority, fraternity, and barracks fires were responded to by U.S. fire departments. On average, these campus and dorm fires caused an estimated $9.4 million in property damage. In addition to property damage, the fires caused 30 injuries and two deaths.

Preventing Campus and Dorm Fires

College students should take the following steps to prevent campus and dorm fires:

  • Never disable or remove batteries from smoke alarms, and test each alarm monthly.
  • Ensure that the dormitory of choice contains a fire alarm in each bedroom and outside all sleeping areas on each level.
  • Learn fire evacuation plans for each building and practice these plans to ensure smooth implementation in the event of a real fire.
  • Use flashlights during a power outage, as opposed to open flames such as candles.
  • Only cook in specially permitted areas. When cooking, remain in the kitchen at all times.
  • Do not cook while tired or under the influence of medications, as this can cause a lack of alertness and attentiveness that can contribute to a dorm fire.
  • Plug surge protectors directly into outlets for all electrical devices and appliances.

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