As the new school year begins, Wichita State and other college students across the country are returning to campuses as in-person learning resumes for many higher education institutions. Through their annual Campus Fire Safety for Students campaign in September, the National Fire Protection Association® (NFPA®) and the Center for Campus Fire Safety (CCFS) are working together to help ensure living spaces are safe for students.
Every September, Campus Fire Safety Month helps raise awareness about the threat of fires in both on- and off-campus housing and puts relevant information into the hands of students, their parents, campus housing staff and administrators.
According to data from CCFS, from January 2000 to April 2022, 94 fatal fires have been documented that claimed 134 lives on college campuses, in Greek housing or at off-campus housing within three miles of campus. Of the 94 fires documented, 38 were accidental and involved cooking, candles, smoking or electrical equipment, and took the life of 51 students.
NFPA research shows that September and October are the peak months for campus fires, particularly during the hours between 5-9 p.m.
“As students return to college life this fall, we encourage them to review fire safety tips to learn how to prevent fires; the more prepared we are, the more we can do to reduce fire risk,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA vice president of outreach and advocacy and CCFS advisory council member. “Campus Fire Safety Month provides a great opportunity to share materials and action steps and to foster a culture of awareness and preparedness about fire safety on our college campuses.”
These tips from NFPA and CCFS can help students reduce the risk of fires and save lives:
- Know and practice your building’s evacuation plan and look for alternate routes out of the building.
- Cook in intended areas only and never leave cooking equipment unattended when in use, even briefly.
- Test smoke alarms monthly in an apartment or a house. Ensure smoke alarms are installed in all sleeping areas, outside of all sleeping areas and on every level of the apartment or house. Never remove or disable smoke alarms.
- Keep combustible items away from heat sources and never overload electrical outlets, extension cords or power strips. Many fires are caused by portable light and heat sources, like space heaters and halogen lamps.
- Keep common areas and hallways free of possessions and debris. Never block exit routes.
For more information about the Campus Fire Safety for Students campaign and to find free resources, visit the NFPA website or the CCFS website.
Students, faculty and staff can also contact the WSU Fire Safety office at 316-978-5803 or 5531.