College students should heed fire safety warnings

As Wisconsin’s college and university students undertake another academic year, Attorney General J. B. Van Hollen and State Fire Marshal Tina Virgil urge them to study basic fire safety precautions.

According to the Center for Campus Fire Safety, since January 2000, 79 deadly fires have occurred, resulting in 114 deaths.

“College life and living on one’s own for the first time is exciting, but students need to keep in mind their personal safety as well,” Attorney General Van Hollen said. “No parent ever wants to receive the call that his or her child has been injured or killed by fire. That’s why I urge young adults across Wisconsin to take a moment to consider these basic, common sense reminders. Inattentiveness, recklessness, alcohol and the disabling of smoke alarms all can have devastating and life-altering consequences.”

Tips from the U. S. Fire Administration:

Candles and cooking

Avoid using lighted candles. If you must use candles, ensure that they are placed in sturdy holders.

Do not leave candles unattended.

Keep candles away from draperies and linens.

If you use electric appliances, do not

overload circuits.

Never leave cooking unattended.

If a fire starts in a microwave, keep the door closed and unplug the unit.


If you smoke, smoke outside. Make sure cigarettes and ashes are out. Never toss hot cigarette butts or ashes in the trash can.

After a party, check for cigarette butts, especially under cushions. Chairs and sofas catch on fire fast and burn fast.

Be alert—don’t smoke in bed! If you are sleepy or have been drinking, put your cigarette out first.

Escape planning

If you have to escape through smoke, get low and go under the smoke to your exit.

Before opening a door, feel the door. If it is hot, use your second way out.

If you are trapped, call the fire department and tell them where you are. Seal the door with rags and signal from your window. Open windows slightly at the top and bottom; shut them if smoke rushes in from any direction.

Campus Firewatch reports 86 percent of the campus-related fire fatalities nationwide since January 2000 happened in off-campus housing. It reports some of the common factors in those fires include:

n lack of automatic fire sprinklers; n missing or disabled smoke alarms; n careless disposal of smoking materials;

n impaired judgment from alcohol consumption;

n fires originating on upholstered furniture on decks or porches.