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Reduce fire risks in dorms and off-campus housing as students return to school this fall

As the new school year draws near, college students across the country are gearing up to return to campus as in-person learning resumes for many higher education institutions. The nonprofit Illinois Fire Safety Alliance (IFSA) offers some simple tips to prevent unnecessary school tragedies.

According to data from The Center for Campus Fire Safety, from January 2000 to April 2022, 94 fatal fires have been documented that occurred on a college campus, in Greek housing, or in off-campus housing within three miles of the campus and claimed 134 lives. Of those fires, 28 were accidental involving cooking, candles, smoking, or electrical equipment, and took the lives of 51 students. National Fire Protection Association research shows that September and October are the peak months for campus fires, particularly during the evening between 5:00pm and 9:00pm.

“As families support their students in the return to college this fall, the Illinois Fire Safety Alliance encourages everyone to be mindful of the following fire safety tips to prevent a tragedy from occurring,” IFSA President & Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District Chief Jim Kreher notes. “The more everyone prepares, the less chance a fire will occur – or an injury from a fire can be prevented.”

To help students reduce the risk of fires and save lives, follow these tips:

  • Know and practice the building’s evacuation plan, as well as alternate routes out of the building.
  • Cook in intended areas only, and never leave cooking equipment unattended when in use, even briefly.
  • Test smoke alarms monthly in an apartment or a house. Ensure smoke alarms are installed in all sleeping areas, outside of all sleeping areas, and on every level of the apartment or house. Never removed or disable smoke alarms.
  • Keep combustible items away from heat sources and never overload electrical outlets, extension cords, or power strips. Many fires are caused by portable light and heat sources, such as space heaters and halogen lamps.
  • Keep common areas and hallways free of possessions and debris. Never block exit routes.

For more fire safety and burn prevention tips and resources, visit


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