Preventing a fire
Whether you live on or off campus, alone or with friends, in a house or in an apartment, you should be serious about fire safety. Here is why: according to the National Fire Protection Association, an average of seven people died in home fires each day in 2016. The lesson? Everyone should take steps to protect themselves and their property. Your life (and the lives of your roommates, if you have them) could depend upon it.
For further guidance, choose one of the following:
- Make sure there are smoke alarms on every floor of your home or apartment (off campus).
- Test every smoke alarm every month (off campus).
- Evacuate the building immediately if you hear an alarm.
- Evacuate and call 911 if you suspect a fire.
- Stay in your room and call 911 if smoke or fire prevents evacuation.
- Keep flammable materials away from any heat source or open flame (space heater, stovetop, etc).
- Store a fire extinguisher in the kitchen; be sure you know how to use it.
- Do not leave ignition sources (candles, lit cigarettes, etc) unattended (off campus).
- Avoid overloading extension cords or outlets. If you need to plug in two or three appliances, get a UL-approved unit with built-in circuit breakers to prevent sparks and short circuits.
- Make sure wiring does not run under rugs, over nails, through door jambs or across high-traffic areas.
- Inspect extension cords for frayed or exposed wires or loose plugs.
- Do not plug multiple extension cords together.
- Do not alter the prongs of polarized plugs to make them fit an outlet.
- Make sure outlets have cover plates and no exposed wiring.
- Never cover lamps with clothing, paper, drapes or other flammable items.
Please be aware no open flames are allowed inside residence halls or apartments, except in stoves. In addition to the general fire safety tips, please also:
- Report all damaged, vandalized or missing fire safety equipment to Housing Security.
- Read your hall’s fire safety information and understand your evacuation route. Instructions are posted on the inside of your room door.
- Never pull a fire alarm without an emergency. It is a violation of state law and can endanger the lives of emergency responders and others.
- Comply with residence hall fire safety policies and guidelines to help reduce the likelihood of accidental fire. Never participate in any activity that can create a fire hazard.
- Do not cover smoke detectors or fire safety equipment. It is a University Housing policy violation.
- Do not tamper with or damage the sprinkler heads
located throughout your residence hall. It is a
University Housing policy violation.
- Do not remove or tamper with the sprinkler head, cage or any part of the system.
- Do not hang anything from the sprinkler head, cage or from any part of the system. This includes the pipes.
- Keep a clearance of 18” around sprinkler heads, including those located in closets.
- Keep sources of heat away from the sprinkler heads.
- Avoid hitting the sprinkler heads when moving items.
- Do not engage in sports or horseplay that could result in anything striking a sprinkler head anywhere in the residence hall. It may activate the system.
In addition to the general fire safety tips, please also:
- Never leave the apartment when food is cooking on the stove or in the oven.
- Do not disconnect or otherwise disable apartment fire alarms.
- Never use aluminum foil to line stoves, burners, cupboards or walls. Trapped grease can cause a fire. It is also a potential breeding ground for pests.
- Do not use charcoal or propane grills inside the apartment.
- Never leave charcoal grills with hot coals unattended.
- Never empty charcoal coals into the dumpster without first dousing the coals with water or making sure they are completely cooled.
- Do not store flammable or explosive substances in the apartment or storage area.
- Check the condition of the fire extinguishers by checking the pressure indicator gauge and plastic seal.
- Do not leave clothes dryers running when no one is in the apartment. Clean lint trap after each use.
- Make regular visual inspections of gas appliances. The flame on furnaces, stove pilots and stove burners should be blue. A mostly yellow flame indicates that fuel is not burning completely and could be a potential source of carbon monoxide.
- Do not use open-flame cooking appliances or an unvented space heater to heat your home, for example, gas ranges, ovens or a kerosene heater.
- Avoid wearing loose-sleeved clothing when cooking or working around an open flame.
- Do not block furnace air intakes. Allow a minimum of three feet clearance around these appliances. Gas furnaces need sufficient oxygen to burn properly.
- Keep personal property at least three feet away from the hot water tank and furnace (outside the yellow line in Northwood IV or V).
- Do not attach anything to or hang anything from plumbing, fixtures, air ducts or electrical lines.
Responding to a fire
Regard each fire alarm as if it were real. In fact, it is a violation of state fire code to disregard alarm activations by refusing to evacuate. For a comprehensive review of evacuation procedures, please read our evacuation page.
For further guidance, choose one of the following:
- Manually activate the fire alarm system.
- Alert people in the area of the need to evacuate.
- Immediately exit the building, closing doors behind you. DO NOT USE ELEVATORS.
- Call 911 once in a safe location.
- Pull the safety pin from the handle of the extinguisher.
- Aim the hose at the base of the fire.
- Squeeze the trigger handle.
- Spray fire retardant from side to side at the base of the fire.
- Walk to the nearest exit. DO NOT USE ELEVATORS.
- Assist persons with disabilities.
- Notify emergency first responders if you suspect someone is trapped inside the building.
- Gather outside at a designated assembly area. Do not attempt to re-enter the building until instructed to do so by DPSS officers or Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) staff.
- Dial 911 and notify them of your location.
- Wet and place cloth around and under the door to prevent smoke from entering.
- Close as many doors as possible between you and the fire.
- Try to signal someone outside, but DO NOT BREAK WINDOWS unless necessary. Otherwise smoke may be drawn into the room.
- Drop to your hands and knees. Crawl toward the exit.
- Stay low, as smoke will rise to the ceiling.
- Breathe shallowly through your nose.
- Use a filter such as a shirt or towel to make breathing easier.
Stop, drop and roll until the fire is extinguished. Running only makes the fire burn faster.