Injury Research and Policy College Fire Safety Research :: Nationwide Children's Hospital, Columbus, Ohio

College Fire Safety

According to the United States Department of Education, 18 million students are enrolled in colleges and universities across the country. Every fall, students move into dormitories, fraternity and sorority houses, and off-campus apartments and houses. For many, it is their first time living on their own. The last thing students tend to worry about when moving into a new place is the possibility of a fire. Yet, every year thousands of fire-related emergencies are reported at schools and in off-campus housing. In order to protect college students from fires, it is important that they understand the risks in their new environment and take appropriate safety measures.

Off-Campus Fire Facts

  • Approximately 12 million college students live in off-campus housing.
  • Since 2000, 108 students living in off-campus housing have died in fires. Most (84%) of all college fire deaths occurred off-campus.
  • The major causes for the fires were cooking, candles, careless smoking habits, and arson.
  • The majority of off-campus fire deaths occurred in houses without working smoke alarms, sprinkler systems, and identified escape routes.
  • Poor judgment from drinking alcohol led to many of the fires and slowed the evacuation process.

Dormitory, Sorority and Fraternity Fire Facts

  • Since 2000, 20 students have died in campus housing fires. This accounts for 16% of all college fire deaths.
  • The major causes for the fires were misuse of cooking appliances and overloaded electrical outlets.
  • Escape was often delayed by smoke alarms that were vandalized, missing batteries, or ignored.

Prevention Tips

  • Look for a house or dorm with a sprinkler system installed.
  • Make sure you have a smoke alarm in your bedroom and on every level of your house.
  • Test the alarms monthly. Never remove or disable the alarms.
  • If a fire alarm goes off, always take it seriously. Get out quickly and stay out.
  • Plan and practice at least 2 fire escape routes from every room.
  • Keep candles away from drapes, sheets, or anything that can burn.
  • Blow out any candles before leaving the room or going to sleep.
  • Always stay in the kitchen when cooking.
  • Do not overload electrical outlets.
  • Use a surge protector for your computer.
  • If you smoke, only smoke outside. Never smoke in bed.
  • Use deep, wide, non-tip ashtrays.
  • If you have a party, do not allow smoking inside. After a party, carefully check your house for smoldering cigarette butts.
  • Do not cook or smoke if you are drowsy or have been drinking.
Nationwide Children's Hospital
700 Children's Drive Columbus, Ohio 43205 614.722.2000