More than 2.5m young people will head to university this autumn, living a lifestyle that could well increase their risk from fire. Fire and Safety centre offers student fire safety advice, and suggests fire safety rules to prevent them becoming another fire death statistic, which sadly happens more often than you might expect…
This blog gives a new meaning to an old adage, because we’ve picked it to highlight the dangers faced by students heading off to universities up and down the country at the end of the summer – many of them for the first time.
Embarking on a university course is an exciting rite of passage, but brings with it a number of dangers that are often not properly appreciated. Of course culinary ones exist, created when inexperienced ‘chefs’ venture beyond microwaved pasta and pizza to actual cooking. But the creation of potentially-inedible meals is not the greatest danger faced by students – and there are more than two million of them in the UK.
Far more significant is the danger of fire, which can by caused by any number of circumstances. The risk is made more potent through the addition of liberal quantities of alcohol (to the student rather than the fire, where it dulls the senses and makes people do things they wouldn’t dream of in the cold light of day).
We’d agree that the stereotypical student lifestyle should include some high living, but that should be tempered with a look at some cold hard facts.
Look how many young people died in fires
The fire fatality statistics involving 18-24-year-olds are alarming. According to government figures a great many of those are associated with fire, because the standard of student accommodation fire safety wasn’t what it should have been.
There has been a death in that age group almost every day for the last five years – a total of 1,500 – as a result of cigarettes, other smoking materials, or candles. Furthermore, more than half of the age group’s deaths were because of misuse of cooking appliances.
It’s not just students who need to think about fire safety rules; parents can get involved with student accommodation fire safety, in helping to select appropriate accommodation. If your son or daughter is going into a University’s halls of residence, the university, as landlord, will no doubt comply with the right legislation. But if the property is owned by a private landlord, greater care will need to be taken.
Five top student fire safety tips
1. Check the property before moving in. Are the wiring and heaters properly maintained? Is there a smoke alarm, and does it work? If you’re in any doubt about a property, have a look at www.direct.gov.uk to find out what a landlord’s responsibilities are. Remember, student housing fire safety is a life-saver, and it’s easy to walk away and look for an alternative.
2. Don’t smoke. You’ll save a fortune by not doing so, of course, but if you feel you must, don’t do it in bed. And it’s riskier still when done in conjunction with drinking or taking drugs. Stub ends and matches can smoulder for some time before bursting into flame.
3. Stay in the kitchen. Don’t leave pans unattended on a hob that’s turned on.
4. Don’t overload power sockets. Too many adaptors can case overheating that leads to fire. Get proper extension leads equipped with safety devices.
5. Check the smoke alarm battery. Every week is good, and replace it straight away when necessary. People have died because smoke alarm batteries were taken out.
Five fire safety advice life-savers
Anyone who follows our five student fire safety tips is well on the way to reducing the likelihood of a fire starting – but if one should, then here are five vital tools that could become life savers.
1. Common sense. Don’t try to fight a fire if it’s not safe to do so, and don’t spend too long trying to do it without calling in the experts – dial 999. Never put yourself in danger!
2. Smoke alarm. Superb early warning system that will wake even the soundest sleeper when it detects even a whiff of smoke. Smoke detectors are easily fitted, and on guard 24 hours of every day. A smoke and carbon monoxide combination alarm will even tell you if they’ve sniffed a fire or the levels of carbon monoxide are rising in the room.
3. Fire extinguisher. Two small fire extinguishers are all you need to guard against most small fires in the home – including ones involving cooking fat.
4. Fire blanket. Probably the most effective fire-fighting tool. Fire blankets can be used on any kind of fire, because they work by excluding air from whatever’s burning. They can even be ‘worn’ by someone escaping a burning building, and are easy to deploy. No home should be without one.
5. Escape ladder. Who would have thought an escape ladder could be small enough to fit in a drawer, and be picked up with one hand? Easily deployed, and extremely sturdy to allow people to get to safety in the event of a fire above the ground floor, this ladder can have people safely away from a fire long before the Fire Brigade arrives.