Going to college is an exciting time for students and their parents. Living in a new “home away from home” not only gives young adults more freedom to make their own choices, but it also provides them an increased level of personal responsibility while at school. When it comes to on- and off-campus housing, it’s important for students and parents to keep fire safety top of mind.
Campus Fire Safety Month
September is Campus Fire Safety Month, and that's a great time to review best practices and put these practices into action. Whether you’re a fire safety professional or safety educator responsible for campus safety, a student or parent, NFPA and its partners provide a wealth of resources to help you get started.
Partnerships and campaigns
Campus Fire Safety for Students
NFPA and The Center for Campus Fire Safety are working together to help raise awareness about the dangers of fires among college-aged students who live in on- and off- campus college housing. The campaign encourages students to know the risks including unattended cooking, candles, and the disabling of smoke alarms in rooms, and the preventative actions that can save their lives. Get more information and resources.
Campus fire safety by the numbers
- From 2017-2021, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated annual average of 3,379 structure fires in dormitories, fraternities, sororities, and other related properties. These fires caused annual averages of 2 civilian deaths, 23 civilian injuries and $12 million in direct property damage.
- Approximately three out of four fires in these properties began in the kitchen or cooking area. Cooking equipment was involved in nearly 9 out of 10 fires. Unattended equipment was the most common factor contributing to the ignition of these fires.
- Saturday and Sunday were the peak days for these fires. However, fires that occurred on weekdays accounted for larger shares of injuries.
- The peak time of day for these fires in dormitory-type properties was between 4 p.m. and midnight when over half of the fires occurred.
- The peak time of day for fires in dormitory-type properties was between 4 p.m. and midnight when over half of the fires occurred. Fires were least likely to occur between midnight and 8 a.m., but these fires accounted for a greater share of the injuries and direct property damage.
- February, September, and October were the peak months for fires in dormitory-type properties.
Source: NFPA Research
More campus fire safety information
It’s easy to get distracted and leave the kitchen when cooking in your apartment or in a common kitchen area in your dorm suite. But accidents happen when the food we left on the stove starts to burn and catch fire. If you just have to check that latest video online or answer a text or call, turn off the stove until you return.
It’s a fact, there’s not a lot of space in your dorm room or apartment but that doesn’t mean you should store your bikes, suitcases, etc. in halls and stairwells – and especially NOT in front of exit doors. You need these areas free and clear so you can make a fast escape in case of a fire. If stuff is blocking your exits, you could easily get trapped inside the burning building.
Candles are one of the leading causes of fire in both on- and off-campus housing and because of this, most colleges and universities won’t allow them in dorms. If you want to use candles off campus try flameless candles. They don’t cost a lot, they’re scented and come in a million shapes and colors. Buy them online or at your nearest home or pharmacy store.
When you overload extension cords, power strips or outlets, you are also overloading the circuit, causing it to heat up and catch fire. And don’t even THINK about using a two-prong plug in a three-hole slot either, which not only can cause a fire, but can give you an electrical shock. Play it safe and use only the required number of slots in an outlet or power strip.