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Your dorm room serves as your sanctuary at school, but potential fire hazards could put your little corner of campus at risk. A fire in a dorm room also puts all of the other residents in jeopardy. To prevent fires, colleges often set restrictions on the types of furnishings and appliances you are allowed to have in your room. Following those rules and checking your dorm room for other potential hazards increases your safety at college.
An open flame is a major fire hazard. Candles are the most common source of open flames in a dorm room. Even when you are in the room, candles can cause fires, and they become an even bigger fire risk in the dorm room when left unattended. Leave all candles at home when going away to college or grab a couple of flameless candles instead.
Many universities prohibit cooking appliances with heat sources in dorm rooms because irresponsible use of these appliances increases the risk of fire. Examples of kitchen appliances that are usually not allowed include toasters, toaster ovens, electric frying pans and hotplates. Check on other appliances such as electric popcorn poppers and coffee pots as the rules vary by school. Microwaves are typically allowed since they don't have exposed heating elements and don't stay hot on outside surfaces. All cooking should remain supervised from start to finish to avoid fires.
Clutter and Decor
The way you decorate your dorm room does more than display your personality. If it's cluttered or overly decorated, it is also a fire hazard. Because of the risk, the student housing department may limit the amount of wall surface you can cover. For example, the University of New Hampshire only allows 50 percent of the wall and door surface to be covered because excessive wall decor and clutter around the room provides fuel for a fire, causing it to spread faster. Items draped from the ceilings also present a fire hazard. You should avoid draping any material over hot items such as lamps that could cause ignition. Keep furniture away from the room's heat source as another way to reduce fire risks.
Since a dorm houses many students, numerous appliances are plugged into the outlets. Plugging too many electronics into your dorm outlets with extension cords or outlet adapters may overload the circuits. Choose power outlet strips with their own circuit breakers that will cut power when overloaded. Surge protector power strips also protect your electronics.
Smoking in dorms is typically not allowed for health and safety reasons. Some colleges may ban smoking outdoors within a certain distance from a dorm building, too. Besides the health risks, a hot cigarette butt or ashes could ignite a fire, especially if they touch flammable material. The U.S. Fire Administration warns against smoking while sleepy or intoxicated as you may be less aware of cigarette butts and ashes that could fall onto flammable surfaces.
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