Students and fire safety: How to keep a cool head and prevent a fire

Nearly 40 people lose their lives in house fires every year, so here's what students need to do to keep safe

Fire, Safety, Students, Parents

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Leaving home and heading off to university is an exciting time for students. But moving in to a new place means taking on new freedoms – and paying heed to new responsibilities.

Whether scoping out a place to live or making yourself at home somewhere new, it’s extremely important that students and parents keep fire safety in mind.

Every year in Ireland, nearly 40 people will lose their lives in house fires, and almost 1000 people will be injured. Planning ahead and taking precautions are important things to remember in order to keep safe. Here are our top tips for keeping students safe and preventing fires in student accommodation.

Speak up when choosing where you live

The honest truth is that smoke alarms save lives. When looking at accommodation, be upfront and ask whether it has a smoke alarm and check to see that it is working. Check out a number of locations and don’t be afraid to ask if there is a fire blanket or an extinguisher located in the house.

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  • Remember to respect the smoke alarm after you’ve moved in

In a student house, things can sometimes get knocked around. Always leave the batteries inside a smoke alarm, only take them out to put in new ones. Leave the smoke alarm where it is placed on the ceiling and never remove the cover. Test it every week and replace the batteries once a year, and wipe it clean from time to time to make sure it is able to do its job and save your life.

  • If an alarm goes off, react

When a fire starts, it doubles in size every 30 – 60 seconds, engulfing whole rooms in minutes. When the smoke alarm goes off, act quickly and leave the building, closing doors behind you. Don’t go back inside for any reason, your personal belonging can be easily replaced.

  • When it comes to the kitchen, be smart

If a fire starts in your oven or microwave, keep the door closed and unplug the unit. If oil or grease catches fire, throwing water on the flames will only make it worse, so use a fire blanket to put it out. If you’re sleepy or drowsy, if you’ve taken drugs or alcohol, don’t take chances by starting to cook a meal with appliances that could cause a fire.

  • Keep exits clear of clutter

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Student accommodation is notorious for being pokey and small, and it’s easy to get cluttered with personal objects and bicycles, luggage, and clothes. Do not block exits with objects that need to be moved. If something is blocking your way out of a building and a fire starts, it could make all the difference.

  • Respect electricity and remember to turn things off

Lamps and light fittings come with a maximum wattage, so stick to it. Burning a 100w bulb in a 60w lamp could lead to overheating, melting the plastic casing on the wire and starting a fire. Don’t put a scarf over a lamp shade to create an atmosphere – you might just create a fire.

If burning candles, don’t leave them unattended and be sure to put them into proper holders that won’t catch light.

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Be smart when charging phones and don’t overload electrical sockets. When you plug too many devices into one socket, you run the risk of overloading the circuit. This could cause it to heat up and catch fire. Stick to one plug per socket.

When you leave to head off somewhere, remember to turn off cookers, irons, hair straighteners, and chargers. Taking a minute to check before you go could save you from coming back to nasty surprise.

Don’t go to sleep running a dishwasher or washing machine, and if you are using a dryer, remember to clean away the lint after every load, as this can lead to overheating and a fire.