While college students often focus on academics and social activities, they should add another important item to their to-do list: fire safety.

To help keep students safe during the school year, with the help of the Center for Campus Fire Safety and Underwriters Laboratories, the International Code Council offers safety recommendations:

When students first move in:

  • Make sure the smoke alarms in the room, suite, apartment and floor are in place and working. If not, contact the resident assistant, landlord or install them.
  • Arrange furniture and decorations so that all automatic fire sprinkler heads are clear. Do not hang anything from fire sprinklers.
  • Keep furniture clear of windows and doors for quick exiting.
  • Never prop stairway doors open. Keep hallways clear.
  • Identify all emergency exits on your floor. In case of fire, elevators will not be in service.
  • Find the fire extinguisher and check that the pressure level is good. In off-campus housing, if there is no extinguisher, buy one and keep it in the kitchen.
  • Never overload electrical outlets. Do not staple, tape or nail extension cords or run them under carpeting. Use UL-listed electrical power strips and unplug appliances when not in use.

Throughout the school year:

  • Never ignore a fire alarm; fires can spread quickly. Evacuate immediately even when there is no smoke present. Have an escape plan and know evacuation routes.
  • Always identify two ways out of a building. The main entrance may be blocked.
  • If candles are allowed, store in appropriate containers and handle with care. Never place an open flame near curtains, posters or anything flammable. Keep candles away from fans, open windows or anywhere they can be knocked over. Never leave burning candles unattended.
  • Do not use portable grills or camp stoves inside.
  • When smoking, use an ashtray. After parties, check furniture cushions for smoldering cigarette butts.

Campus Fire Safety Fact Sheet. Facts about campus fires from Campus FireWatch, including locations (on versus off-campus), number killed, schools and states. Addresses related legislation.

Fire Safety 101: for Colleges and Universities. The U.S. Fire Administration Web site has a list of safety tips on-line and to download.

Living with Fire: Campus and Student Fire Safety. Geared toward fire safety educators, this U.S. Fire Administration Program includes a variety of resources, including lesson plans, PowerPoint presentations, photos and links to help improve fire safety, both on and off-campus. The Web site, A Program for Campus and Student Fire Safety, is maintained by the Center for Campus Fire Safety.