It won't be long before many young people head off to college -- some for the first time. It is a time of big change for first-time collegians starting the next stage in their lives. Fire safety is probably the last thing on their minds, however, it's just as important -- even more so -- in dorms or apartment buildings with hundreds of young students.
Even more critical is "off-campus" housing that may not be covered by campus housing rules as we were so vividly reminded by last years tragic fire at Marist College in Poughkeepsie.
The New Canaan Fire Marshal's Office would like to offer important fire safety tips to help keep these students safe for this new adventure:
Ensure that each sleeping room is equipped with operable smoke detectors.
Candles are a leading cause of fires -- never burn candles or other open flame devices in dorm rooms and common areas.
Never use extension cords in place of proper, permanent wiring.
If given the choice, opt for a dorm/living quarters equipped with automatic fire sprinkler systems.
Know all ways out of your room/dorm and where each exit discharges. Actually take a few minutes to walk the routes to familiarize yourself.
In high-rise buildings, always have a means of re-entering your apartment if the hall becomes untenable (have room keys ready to go).
Always follow directions and guidelines of the school and participate if fire drills as directed.
Learn your address so if you have to call 911 on your cellphone you can give the proper location.
Learn the location of fire alarm pull stations and the sound of the alarm system.
Never cook in your room -- cooking-related incidents are another common cause of dorm fires.
The New Canaan Fire Marshal's Office wishes all young adults heading off to new frontiers a happy and fire-safe future. For further questions regarding fire safety, call 203-594-3030.
Fred Baker is the New Canaan fire marshal.