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Fire prevention and safety 101: Help your college kids ace this test

Aug. 27, 2018

Three students studying in a dorm room


It’s a bit surreal – it seems like just yesterday you were pushing your kiddo on the swings at the playground, and now here you are with your car packed full of everything they own, dropping them off at campus for their freshman year of college. You’ve given the lecture about not eating pizza for every meal. You’ve reminded them to get enough sleep so they can show up to that 8 a.m. Psychology 101 course. But have you talked to them about fire prevention?

“That seems like overkill,” you think. “They got the ‘Stop, Drop, and Roll’ talk when we toured the firehouse for the third-grade field trip; what more do they need?” The fact is that fire kills Minnesota college students on and off campus every year, and many campus fires happen because of a lack of knowledge about fire safety and prevention.

So while you’re at the store getting new socks and towels, pick up a battery-operated smoke alarm to hang outside every sleeping area if they’re in off-campus housing. Then, before you start wrestling the futon mattress through the door, sit your new college student down for a few reminders. Fire safety and prevention messages can go a long way, especially for a young adult living on their own for the first time. You may get a few eye-rolls, but these safety tips can save their life:

  • Know two escape routes, and practice them when you’re alert and sober.
  • If an alarm sounds, leave everything and get out. Escape is your top priority.
  • Stay in the same room as anything you’re cooking, especially if you’re cooking something on the stove. Baking something? Take a timer with you.
  • Same with candles: Either watch them carefully or don’t use them at all.
  • Don’t overload electrical outlets, and always use the right kind of extension cord for the job. And if you see any frayed or damaged wiring, report it to your landlord or resident assistant.
  • Having a party? Don’t let anyone smoke inside, ever, and make sure any outdoor smokers properly dispose of cigarettes in a sturdy container filled with water.
  • Speaking of parties, clean up immediately afterward and take the trash outside.

While you’re at it, you might watch this video together, which contains campus fire safety tips from State Fire Marshal Bruce West.

It’s exciting and bittersweet to see this next chapter in your child’s life unfold, and as a parent, you have a million things to worry about. But learning about campus fire safety together will hopefully take a few of those worries off your mind.