The end of summer is near and as students prepare to return to college, fire and life safety tips are the furthest thing on their minds. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) (http://www.nfpa.org/), between 2005 – 2009, fire departments, nationwide, responded to 3,840 structure fires in dormitories, fraternities, sororities, and barracks. Fires within these group occupancies resulted in an annual average of 3 deaths, 38 fire injuries and $20.9 million in property damage. Of those fires, two-thirds (65%) began in the kitchen/cooking area; 81% involved cooking equipment. And although 9% of the fires began in the bedroom they accounted for 22% of fire injuries.
Structure fires in dormitories, fraternities, sororities and barracks peak during the months of September and October; they are more common during the evening hours between 5:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m., as well as, on the weekends.
If your child resides in the dorm or at an off-campus residence, parents should remain adamant in educating their children on being aware and practicing fire safety. Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue in conjunction with NFPA suggest the following safety tips to keep your loved ones safe while their away at school:
· Learn your building’s fire evacuation plan.
· Participate in all fire drills so you know what to do should a fire/emergency occur.
· Leave immediately when you hear the smoke or fire alarm; Don’t assume it is a drill!
· Close doors behind you and take your room keys in case you can’t escape and you need to return to
· Know the location of all building exits (your building and buildings you visit).
· Make sure your building/dormitory/apartment has smoke alarms.
o Make sure your dormitory or apartment has smoke alarms inside each bedroom, outside every sleeping area and on each level.
· Keep a flashlight handy.
- Feel the door before opening, if hot use your second or alternative way out.
- If smoke is present, get low and go under the smoke.
- Use the stairs – Never use the elevator during a fire.
- If trapped, call 911, tell them where you are (learn how to dial out of your building. Some buildings require a 9 or a 1 before you can dial out, i.e. 9-911 or 1-911.
- If trapped, place rags around the seal of your door and signal from your window you need help.
Individuals with a Disability:
- Prior to the start of the semester, inform Housing and your Resident Advisor that you are disabled.
- Learn the alternative escape plan for classrooms and living quarters.
- Alert others as to the type of assistance you will need to leave the building should a fire/emergency occur and the building is to be evacuated.
Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue would like to remind the community, when a fire occurs, don’t lose sight of the primary goal -- everyone goes home. To assure that happens, remember:
· Survival is your top priority -- not possessions.
· Get Out and Stay Out!
· Know the location of your safe meeting place.
· Notify on-scene fire and rescue personnel that everyone is safely out of the