As you or someone you love enters college, the possibilities seem exciting and limitless. Independent living - the full spectrum of adult life - available, in all its richness, at last!
But, with adult living comes an adult responsibility - not the least of which is to protect yourself and your fellow collegians from fire.
Here is some of the most common fire hazards encountered in student life - and how the fire - safe student reduces the risks:
- Smoking - If you must smoke or if your friends smoke, smoke sensibly. Even on a student budget, you can afford a heavy ashtray with a deep lip. Use it to keep smoking materials where they belong. Never us a paper or plastic cup as an ashtray. Dispose of butts and ashes in the toilet, never in the wastebasket. Lay off cigarettes at all-night study sessions and parties. The risk of falling asleep while smoking is too great.
- Cooking in Rooms - Heating coils and hot plates can easily ignite books, papers, records, drapes and furniture; especially if left unattended. Kitchens are designed for safe cooking - your room is not. Steer Clear!
- Pranks - There's simply no excuse for playing with hoses and extinguishers. If you break the hose or deplete the extinguisher, you'll be helpless if a fire starts. It is also dangerous to turn in false alarms or set "prank" fires, which can get out of control and cause death and destruction. The responding fire apparatus could be involved in a traffic accident. Students may be injured escaping hurriedly from the dorms; and firemen who may be needed elsewhere are tied up for nothing.
- Decorations - Unfortunately, most of the decorations a student can afford - posters, fish netting, crepe paper and Christmas Trees - will burn. Don't put a poster on your door - it could ignite in a fire, blocking your escape. Burning wall or ceiling decorations may fall on you or contribute to the spread of fire. It is not difficult to find fire resistant decorations. Be sure those you do have are positioned where they can't block escape routes. Check with your college to find out what your school's fire safety policy is.
- Candles - It is recommended that candles not be used in dorm rooms. However, if candles are necessary for religious or fraternal ceremonies, they should be in or on a non-combustible container placed at least 24 inches away from combustibles.
For most students, college is a growing experience. You can begin by growing into your responsibilities for keeping friends and yourself safe from fire.
If you have questions about any fire-related subject, call the Ouachita Parish Fire Department's Fire Prevention Bureau at (318) 325-1621.