Essex County Fire and Rescue Service

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Keeping your student digs fire safe

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service is issuing advice to university students as part of Student Fire Safety Week (25-31 October).

Many young people are living away from home for the first time, either in rented property or halls of residence, with new responsibilities when it comes to fire prevention and awareness. 

Home Office fire statistics show that 66% of the 160-plus fires attended by fire and rescue services at student halls of residence in 2019/20 were started by cooking appliances. 

Will Newman, Head of Prevention at Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, said: “When living away from home, it’s important to recognise new fire hazards, and take precautions to reduce your risk.  

“The majority of fires we attend at student accommodation start in the kitchen, often when someone has become distracted or are under the influence of alcohol. We’re asking students to make sure they don’t leave cooking unattended and take extra care if cooking with oil. 

“If you’ve been drinking, we’d advise to give cooking a miss and end your night out with the arrival of a takeaway rather than a fire engine.” 

Student fire safety tips 

Smoke alarms save lives!  Your landlord must fit smoke alarms on each level of the house. Test them weekly. See information below about smoke alarms in rented accommodation.

Never leave cooking unattended. And keep the cooker clean - most fires in student properties are linked to cooking.

Tins and foil cause fires in microwaves - so leave them out.

Don't cook if you've been drinking alcohol  - get a take-away instead.

Take extra care when frying with oil as this is an extremely common cause of fire. If one does occur NEVER put water on it as it will turn into a fireball. 

Practice an escape route with your housemates, so that you know how to get out of the property if there's a fire. And make sure escape routes are kept clear.

Take extra care with smoking materials. If you smoke, make sure you've extinguished your cigarette properly before you go to sleep. And never smoke in bed.

Don’t overload sockets.  And switch off electrical appliances, like mobile chargers and hair straighteners, when not in use.

Keep candles away from flammable surfaces or textiles such as curtains, TV sets or bath tubs and never leave them unattended. Always remember to extinguish them properly before going to sleep.

REMEMBER:  If a fire starts get out, stay out and dial 999

Top tips for student fire safety: 

Do: 

  • Test private residence fire alarms regularly. 
  • Keep your student digs smelling fresh with a fragrance spray or reed diffusers rather than candles. 
  • When the fire alarm sounds, react quickly and evacuate safely. 
  • Ask for advice when unsure about cooking. 
  • Give cooking your full attention. 

Don't: 

  • Never light candles or have open flames in your student housing. 
  • Never cover smoke alarms. 
  • Don’t ignore fire alarms. 
  • Don’t try and cook without a clue, use cook books and ask others instead. 
  • Avoid distractions while cooking, and never leave cooking unattended. 
  • To stay up to date with all ECFRS news and advice by following @ECFRS on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. 
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