Illinois State Fire Marshal offers tips to college students for fire safety

Fire truck (Source: Pexels/Obi Onyeador)
Fire truck (Source: Pexels/Obi Onyeador)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (KBSI) – September is National Fire Safety Month. The state of Illinois joins other states to raise awareness of fire safety focusing on college students’ on and off-campus housing.

Encouraging students to have working smoke alarms, sprinkled residential dwellings, and other fire safety plans in place creates a safer living environment, according to the state of Illinois.

September and October are peak months for fires in dormitories, according to National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). According to the Center for Campus Fire Safety, from January 2000 to April 2022, 94 deadly college campus fires have been documented within three miles of campus and taken 134 lives.

Millikin University in Deccatur hosts the annual Nick Project events on campus to provide fire safety equipment to Millikin’s fraternities, sororities and off-campus students. The project was started by Sophia Schwalbach who lost her brother, Nick Schwalbach, in a fraternity house fire on Millikin’s campus in June 2000.

The state of Illinois provides the following tips to help keep students safe when choosing a residence:

  • Look for housing whether on or off campus that is outfitted with working sprinklers.
  • Make sure you can hear the building’s fire alarm system.
  • Check to make sure all sleeping rooms and common areas have functioning smoke alarms. For optimal protection, all smoke alarms in the home should be interconnected so that when one sounds, they all sound.
  • Never remove batteries or disable or cover any alarm device.
  • Test all smoke alarms at least monthly.
  • Whether you live on or off campus, have a fire escape plan with two ways out of every room.
  • Learn the building’s evacuation plan and practice all drills as if they were the real thing.
  • When the smoke alarm or CO alarm sounds, exit the building quickly and stay out until given instructions to return.
  • If you smoke, smoke outside and only in designated areas.
  • Dispose of used smoking materials in proper receptacles.
  • Never leave the kitchen when cooking.
  • Check with your local fire department, building management, or campus office before using a barbeque grill or fire pit.
  • Never overload electrical outlets and check with the school to make sure what electrical appliances are allowed.
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