September Designated 'Campus Fire Safety Month'
Need to Raise Awareness of Fire Dangers Escalates As Students Head Back to
AMHERST, Mass., Aug. 30 /PRNewswire/ -- More than 10 million young adults between ages 18 and 24 will head to college in a few weeks. Students will be equipped with the latest computers, mp3 players, and clothes, and ready to take on college life. But experts say they won't necessarily be ready to face an emergency situation like a residence hall or apartment fire. The nonprofit Center for Campus Fire Safety (CCFS), along with state and federal lawmakers, Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and Kidde, a leading fire safety product manufacturer, want to remind parents and students about this potentially deadly risk, and are designating September as "Campus Fire Safety Month." At least 24 states have adopted the proclamation. Since January 2000, 89 people have died and many more have been injured in on- and off-campus fires. September is one of the deadliest months for these fires, most of which occur in off-campus housing such as apartments, rental homes, or Greek housing, places where more than three-fourths of all college students live. Tragically, most of these fatalities could have been prevented. "Unfortunately, most college students do not realize how quickly a fire can occur, and most have not received any fire training since elementary school," said Ed Comeau, director of the Center for Campus Fire Safety. "We hope this campaign will help students to realize that they are not invincible, that fires do happen in campus-related settings, and that they take steps to protect themselves, no matter where they live." Common Factors in Student-Related Fires Most fatal fires involving college students have four common elements: missing or disabled smoke alarms, careless disposal of smoking materials, alcohol consumption, and lack of automatic sprinkler systems. "Student living means rooms full of books, paper, bedding, curtains and clothes -- plus many other potential fire hazards in a very small area," says John Drengenberg, manager of consumer affairs at UL, the not-for-profit product safety testing organization. "In this situation, even the tiniest spark can be deadly." The U.S. Fire Administration reports that in more than 50 percent of all adult fire fatalities, the victims were under the influence of alcohol. Smoking materials remains the number one cause of fire deaths in the United States in all occupancies, according to the National Fire Protection Association, which also notes that while most homes and apartments -- including rental properties -- have smoke alarms, nearly 40 percent don't work, often due to dead or missing batteries. "Off-campus fires are similar to the very type of fires that we see across the nation every day, so the fire problem facing the country also affects college campuses," said Comeau. "Studies show that on average, you have less than three minutes from the sound of the first smoke alarm to escape a fire. Students who are impaired by alcohol, or who may live in a place without working smoke alarms or without a sprinkler system only increase their risk of not getting out in time. It's a deadly combination." Taking Initiative to Protect Students While parents often ask about a university's academic history, security and other factors, they may not think to ask about the school's fire safety record. While all residence halls should have working smoke alarms, not all of them will have automatic sprinkler systems, which the National Institute of Standards and Technology found can reduce fire deaths by 82 percent. "As parents, we install smoke alarms and fire extinguishers in our homes to keep our children safe, and assume that the same level of safety exists in residence halls and off-campus rental properties when our children go off to school," said Chris Rovenstine, vice-president of marketing for Kidde. "Parents need to make fire safety part of their initial check when their child goes to college, and make sure that the student's residence has working smoke alarms as well as fire extinguishers and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms. These products truly could be the difference between life and death." Parents can get a checklist on what to look for when their child heads back to college, as well as receive updates on other Center for Campus Fire Safety initiatives, by visiting www.campusfire.org. About CCFS The Center for Campus Fire Safety (CCFS) is a non-profit organization devoted to reducing fires at campuses across the nation through education and advocacy. Formed to provide a central focal point for the complex issues surrounding campus fire safety, the Center's goal is to provide a place for those interested in campus fire safety to share ideas and learn from their peers. For more information, visit www.campusfire.org. About Kidde As the world's largest manufacturer of fire safety products, Kidde's mission is to provide solutions that protect people and property from the effects of fire and its related hazards. For more than 80 years, industry leaders, the military, airlines and firefighters have relied on Kidde to deliver superior fire detection and suppression. Consumers will find that same advanced fire safety technology in Kidde's residential and commercial smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, fire extinguishers and other life safety products. Based in Mebane, N.C., Kidde is part of UTC Fire & Security, a leading global supplier of fire safety and security services, serving government, industrial, commercial and retail industries with brand names such as Kidde, Chubb and others. UTC Fire & Security is a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX) a diversified company that provides high technology products and services to the aerospace and building industries worldwide. For more information, visit www.kidde.com. About Underwriters Laboratories Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL) is an independent, not-for-profit product safety certification organization that has been testing products and writing Standards for Safety for more than 110 years. UL tests more than 19,000 types of products annually, and more then 19 billion UL Marks appear on products each year. Worldwide, UL's family of companies and its network of service providers include 58 laboratories, and testing and certification facilities.
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