Fire safety campaign aimed at students in off-campus college housing

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Photo: Campus Firewatch

Belchertown, MA – Fire safety experts want college students to remember one thing when searching for off-campus housing for the coming school year: See It Before You Sign It.

Signing a lease for off-campus housing without conducting an in-person tour could be a deadly mistake for college students, so fire safety experts have devised a campaign to help create awareness.

“See It Before You Sign It” is an initiative of Campus Firewatch, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the National Fire Protection Association and the U.S. Fire Administration. It’s designed to inform students and parents about the importance of fire safety in off-campus housing.

USFA statistics show that 85 fires occurred in off-campus housing from 2000 to 2015, resulting in 118 deaths. In 58 percent of those fires, smoke alarms showed evidence of tampering or were missing, and smoking proved to be a cause in 29 percent of the blazes.

The campaign advises students and parents to consider the following signing an off-campus lease:

  • Are smoke alarms in every bedroom and on every level of the building?
  • Does every bedroom have two ways out? Keep in mind the second way out may be a window.
  • If a window is the second way out, does it open? Is it blocked by an air conditioner? Are security bars on the windows?
  • If the bedroom is on a second or third floor, is an escape ladder available?
  • The leading cause of all home fires is cooking. What is the condition of the stove?
  • Are enough electrical outlets available to safely handle the many devices used today?

Campus Firewatch also offers an off-campus housing fire safety checklist covering smoke alarms, exits and fire causes.

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