Last updated: 14/10/20
A fire can be life-changing. And many people think that it’ll never happen to them. However, the reality is that a fire could happen to anyone. When you move to uni, this may be the first time you’ve ever lived alone. When you’re dealing with meeting new friends and exciting new life experiences, things like learning fire safety probably won’t be high up your to-do list. However, learning the basics should be an essential part of moving out.
To help you stay safe when moving into student accommodation, we’ve worked with Fire Protection Online to pull together some tips on preventing a fire when living in uni accommodation, plus what to do should you ever experience a fire. Let’s get started.
Tips for preventing a fire in student accommodation
1) Never leave cooking unattended
Whilst you might be busy with assignments and getting to know your new flat mates, you should never leave your food cooking alone as it needs your full attention. That way, you’re on hand to prevent the food from burning, as well as taking action if things start smoking. If you’re tired, or are just a bit distracted, it’s probably safer to order a pizza (or at least cook something that requires minimal culinary skills!).
Most university halls should provide fire safety equipment (such as a
fire blanket/extinguisher) – be sure to familiarise yourself with where these are located in case of a fire. Also, make sure you know how to use them before you need them. And if you’re buying fire safety equipment yourself, make sure it has the British Standard Kitemark.
2) Avoid using candles
Whilst candles are much-loved home accessories which set an ambience and make your room smell nice, most accommodation providers don’t allow the use of incense/candles in their accommodation. This is because candles are a very common way for fires to start, causing over 500 fires and around 350 casualties in the UK every year. Instead, opt for the much safer and longer-lasting battery candles and reed diffusers.
3) Take care with heated hair equipment
Another common, but hazardous, item is your hairdryer. After using your hairdryer or straighteners, make sure you place them in a safe place while they’re still hot – and remember to switch them off! Try to leave them on a hard surface instead of soft surfaces like your bed, which is far more likely to cause a fire. You can even pick up a heat mat especially for hot straighteners/curling wands for additional safety.
4) Turn chargers off when you’re not using them
If a charger overheats, it could potentially cause a fire. In fact, around 24 fires per week are caused by chargers (as well as batteries and cables). So be sure to turn your chargers off when you’re not using them.
5) Don’t smoke indoors
Your own room may be the only privacy you have, but you’ll probably find that smoking is restricted for your own safety. If you smoke, be sure to always use the designated smoking areas.
6) Regularly test your smoke alarm
Did you know that you’re eight times more likely to die from a fire if you don’t have a working smoke alarm? You’ll have a number of smoke alarms in your halls accommodation, be sure to test these regularly to make sure they work and ensure no one takes the batteries out of them.
7) Don’t put tins/foil in the microwave
Tins/foil can cause fires when they’re put in a microwave. So be sure to always avoid doing this!
8) Never ignore a fire alarm
It can be tempting to just shrug a fire alarm off as a drill, especially if you’re trying to sleep, or are head-down in a uni assignment. However, it’s important to treat every fire alarm seriously just in case.
9) Plan an escape route with your flat mates
It probably won’t make for the most exciting of conversations, but have a chat with your flat mates about where the fire exits are and where the safest exit route is in the event of a fire. This can help everyone feel prepared if something did happen.
10) Avoid cooking if you’ve had a drink
Just like most things when alcohol is involved, cooking doesn’t always go to plan. If you’ve had a drink, opt for something that doesn’t need to be cooked or order a takeaway!
What to do if there is a fire in university accommodation
There is simple advice throughout the UK in the event of a fire, and that is:
• Get out
Don’t try and put the fire out yourself. Get out of the building via your escape route if possible. If you didn’t plan an escape route, there will normally be fire exit signs in university accommodation – follow these. Shout out as you’re going along to make other people aware if they’re living in the property.
• Stay out
Once you’re out, stay out. Don’t go back for valuables or anything else until advised by the fire service.
• Call 999
Once you’re out and safe, call 999 as soon as possible to report the fire.
Some additional tips:
1) Test doors before opening
Place the back of your hand against a closed door before opening it to see if it feels warm. If it does, the fire will normally be on the other side, so it’s best not to open it.
2) Shut doors behind you if possible
This will limit the oxygen and avoid feeding the fire.
3) Don’t go back/delay leaving for valuables
Items are replaceable. You are not.
4) If there’s a lot of smoke, crawl on the floor
This is because smoke rises, so the air is cleaner lower down.
5) Try not to panic
Clear thinking and decision making will be really important on your exit route, so try not to panic.
Importance of fire safety rules for students
If you’re a student at uni for the first time, there’s probably a whole bunch of things on your uni bucket list. Whilst these first time uni experiences are really important, it’s also crucial to brush up on vital life skills (such as what to do if there’s a uni fire) to make sure you always keep yourself as safe as possible.
Being up to date on fire safety rules as a student will mean that:
• You’ll be able to prevent fires occurring.
• You’ll know what to do in the event of a fire and how to escape safely.
• You’ll be able to pass this knowledge onto your friends, who can pass it onto their friends, and somewhere along the line, you may save a life.
At Endsleigh, we’ve worked with students for over fifty years and we care about you and your wellbeing. For this reason, we make it our mission to provide students with helpful information such as fire safety tips and other topics you may not have thought about educating yourself on before.
What are the student accommodation fire regulations?
• Fitting a working fire alarm on every floor of the student accommodation (and testing them prior to a new tenancy)
• Fitting carbon monoxide alarms in rooms with a solid fuel burning appliance
Different buildings will have different requirements, but some fire equipment you could expect to see in your accommodation are:
• Interlinked fire alarms
• Carbon monoxide alarms
• Fire blankets
• Fire extinguishers
Keeping in mind these practical student fire safety tips will hopefully help you stay informed and have a good time at uni knowing that if anything did happen, you’d be prepared to deal with it in the best way possible.
For additional information, you should take a look at your accommodation provider’s website to see if they offer any specific fire tips for your halls of residence.
What would you do if your things were destroyed in a uni fire?
Students will probably fall into two categories here:
1/ I’m covered by insurance
If you have relevant student insurance in place, you’ll be able to make a claim for your insured items should they be damaged in a fire. For many items, this will include 24 hour replacement once your claim has been approved – so you won’t need to be without your essential things for long.
2/ Not covered by insurance
If you aren’t covered by insurance, you’ll more than likely need to re-purchase all of your belongings. Or at least the ones you can’t live without at uni, such as laptops, gadgets and headphones.
To avoid being uninsured at uni, check whether your uni accommodation has provided cover for your things by clicking below. You’ll also be able to top up your insurance if you notice anything that isn’t covered, for example, cover when you’re outside of your accommodation. And if it turns out you aren’t covered by your accommodation provider, grab one of our Everywhere Student Packs and make sure your things are always covered when you need them to be.
This post was partially contributed by Fire Protection Online, who offer quality products and services at unbeatable prices. They are also committed to helping simplify fire safety so everyone is better protected.