The beginning of a new term means classes, homework, friends, and parties. With such hectic lives, students often do not pay attention to one thing that could seriously injure or kill them: The effects of fire.
As a new semester begins on college campuses throughout the state, State Fire Marshal Brian S. Geraci reminds students to take action to protect themselves and their friends from the devastating effects of fire.
An estimated 87% of college-related fire deaths occur in off-campus apartments and homes, where most college students live. This is the primary reason why the State of Maryland has declared September as “Campus Fire Safety Month.”
“Unfortunately, most college students do not fully appreciate how quickly a fire can grow out of control,” said the State Fire Marshal. “Studies have shown you have an average of three minutes from when the first smoke alarm sounds to escape the effects of fire. Students need to realize they are not invincible, fires do happen in campus-related settings, and they can take proactive steps to protect themselves no matter where they live.”
Many fatal fires involving college students have one or more of four common elements:
(1) Carelessly disposed of smoking materials are a contributing cause of fatal fires in all residences, including rental properties where college students live. Students also fall victim to fires started by unattended open flame devices, such as candles.
(2) Missing or dead batteries are the leading cause of smoke alarms not working properly.
(3) The influence of alcohol, although not condoned by college administrators, is sometimes a factor in college-related activities. Studies show alcohol decreases inhibition and impairs judgment, increasing a student’s risk of not waking to the sound of a smoke alarm and potentially not surviving the effects of fire.
(4) Living in properties without the life-saving protection afforded by an automatic fire sprinkler system.
The State Fire Marshal offers these safety tips for both parents and students when students are living on or off-campus: