Fire safety tips for off-campus students

As the weather gets warmer and spring is in early bloom, it is now time to change the batteries in your smoke detector. A smoke detector’s batteries must be changed every six months, typically in the spring and fall, but it is still important for students to know fire safety year-round. Off-Campus Student Services and USC Fire and Safety have compiled tips to keep students safe while living off-campus. 

A great way to remain safe during fires is to have a working smoke detector.
South Carolina law requires landlords to provide smoke detectors in all rented spaces. It is also recommended that there is a working smoke detector in every bedroom and the common living space. But these devices are only helpful if they are in working order. Smoke detectors can be checked by pressing the “test” button. If you don’t hear beeping, it’s not working correctly. For more help with smoke detectors, here is a short video on how to check them.

The majority of household fires begin in the kitchen and other cooking areas.
A way to keep cooking safe is to use pots with their matching lids. And, as the weather gets warmer and cooking moves outdoors, remember to use grills a safe distance from your house or apartment and steer clear of overhead structures and trees. If a fire starts while you are cooking, remember never use water to douse a grease fire. 

Only you can prevent house fires. Here are some tips to keep your house fire marshal approved.

  • When having to choose, always pick surge protectors over extension cords. Also avoid “daisy-chaining” or “piggybacking” cords together.
  • No matter how great smelling your candles are, never leave them burning unattended.
  • A clothes dryer is the No. 1 household appliance to catch on fire, so always clean out the lint trap between loads of laundry and make sure to keep your vent hose unobstructed.
  • Make sure to regularly water your plants. Not only does it keep your plants happy and healthy, it keeps them from drying out and becoming hazards.
  • After a long day of studying, don’t leave a laptop charging and unattended. Some lithium batteries have caught fire while charging.
  • Make sure to only use bulbs that are rated for the lamp. Never exceed the wattage listed on the appliance.
  • Know where your fire extinguisher is located and how to use it. Here is a short video explaining how to use a fire extinguisher. 
  • And if all else fails, be prepared. Know your nearest path to safety from every room in the house. Then have a backup plan in case your original exit path is blocked.

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