Essex County Fire and Rescue Service

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Student Fire Safety

As teenagers across the County get ready to fly the nest and embark on life as a university student Essex County Fire and Rescue Service are offering some help and advice to keep them fire safe in their halls of residence and student homes.

University is a time to make new friends, learn new skills and create memories which will last a lifetime. It is also the first time many young people will have lived away from home and looked after themselves.

By following a few simple home fire safety tips new and returning students can make sure they stay safe.

- Those in rented and shared accommodation are seven times more likely to have a fire. Make sure your landlord has installed smoke alarms and a carbon monoxide detector and replaces the batteries regularly. Never remove the batteries from your smoke alarm and remember to test it every week.
- Never leave lit candles or burning incense unattended. Use a snuffer or spoon to extinguish candles and douse the tips of incense in water.
- Do not dry clothes on electric room heaters or drape fabric over lights.
- Keep hallways and communal areas clutter free to ensure a clear escape route in case of fire. Make sure window and door keys are kept where everyone can find them. Establish where the fire exits are and plan your escape, this is especially important if you live in a large communal buildings like university halls.

Over half of the house fires in Essex start in the kitchen. Students are at particular risk of this as 55% of the fire deaths in 18-24 year-olds are caused by misusing cooking equipment and carelessly handling hot substances. Stay safe in the kitchen:

- 26% of injuries sustained in house fires that were started by cooking occur between 10pm and 4am. Don’t cook after a night out drinking – grab a kebab or if money’s tight prepare food in advance.
- Ensure all cookers and hobs are turned off after use.
- Keep hobs, ovens and grills clean as a build-up of fat and grease can catch fire. Remember to empty the crumb tray in your toaster regularly.
- Keep cooking areas free from rubbish and clutter, even things like cookery books, spice racks and knife blocks could pose a fire risk if stored too close to the hob.

Electricity causes over 20,000 fires per year. Help reduce the risk of an electrical fire by following this advice:

- Faulty electrics are a major cause of fire. It's your landlord’s responsibility to maintain wiring and any electrical appliances they have provided.
- Ensure all electrical appliances are unplugged before going to bed or leaving the house and never leave hair straighteners, curlers or dryers unattended when switched on or still hot.
- Never use a higher wattage bulb than the wattage that is printed on the light fitting.
- Avoid overloading extension cords and adapters; just because there are four sockets per adapter doesn’t mean it’s always safe to use them all.

Divisional Officer Neil Fenwick, Community Safety, said: “We know that going to university is an exciting time but we want to make sure that students are safe in their new homes. By following our advice students, and their parents, can make sure that they are safe in their new homes and that their university experience is not marred by fire.”

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