Add fire safety to your college move-in checklist

Sept. 2, 2021

Let's see: Beanbag chair. Poster of favorite band. Perhaps a new comforter for the bed. Your college student's move-in checklist is likely a mile long, so the last thing you want to do is add anything to it. But some things are just too important to leave off — like campus fire safety.

Did you know that fire kills college students every year, both on and off campus? Fortunately, with a few simple precautions and an action plan, your college student can prevent fires and survive a fire if one starts.

While you're shopping for towels and laundry detergent so your kiddo can survive away from home, be sure to pick up smoke alarms. A dorm or other on-campus housing should have them, but off-campus housing can be a different story. Between 2000 and 2015 in the U.S., 94 percent of fatal campus fires occurred off-campus. So get a smoke alarm for every bedroom and every level of the house. While you're at it, grab some flameless candles, too. They'll give the same ambiance, but won't start a fire if tipped over or left unattended.

Once your college student is settled in their new place, talk through these additional fire safety tips with them:

  • Clean up immediately after parties, and take the trash all the way outside.

  • Know two escape routes from your building, and practice them.

  • If an alarm sounds, leave everything and get out. Personal belongings can be replaced. You can't.

  • A fire doubles in size every 60 seconds, so make sure hallways, stairs and exits are clear so you can get out quickly.

  • Talk with your roommates and choose a safe place to meet outside in case of a fire, so you know everyone is safe.

Some other facts your college student may not have thought of: Where fatal campus fires are concerned, alcohol is a key factor and smoking is the leading cause. If anyone in your student's house smokes, encourage them to smoke only outside. When they're done with a cigarette, they should never throw it into a potted plant or under a deck – instead, dispose of it properly in a study container filled with sand or water.

​With a new semester starting, your college student has a lot to adjust to, whether they're new on campus or close to graduating. Making sure they have the tools and knowledge to stay fire safe can help you cross one very important thing off your list.​​​