College Dorm Fire Safety: 6 Life Saving Tips

By: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Updated on: November 15, 2022

Whether it’s your first semester or final year, living on campus turns the dorm into a second home. That comfortable environment should always be a place where everyone feels safe in their surroundings.

An important part of that sense of security comes from being prepared for emergencies, but how well do you know the ins and outs of dorm room fire safety?

As Chicago’s leading fire restoration company, we see so much damage that doesn’t have to happen. We’ve put together this list of fire safety tips for dorm living to help college students protect their campus homes away from home.

6 Smart Tips for Dorm Room Fire Safety

When kids are taught fire safety at home, they never outgrow the benefits. A big part of that learning process includes reviewing simple, smart strategies that save lives. These six tips help keep students safer every day, and they work for everyone on campus.

1. Know Your Alarms

test dorm room smoke alarm
Make sure to regularly test dorm room smoke alarms to ensure they are working properly and are not in need of battery replacement.

Know the sound of your dorm’s fire alarm system so that you can quickly respond, and back it up with a smoke detector in your room. Most models are inexpensive and easy to install. Never take out the batteries, and check its operation every month. As a courtesy, alert adjoining rooms before testing your smoke detector.

2. Cook With Care

According to National Fire Protection Association statistics on college campus fire safety, 86 percent of structural fires are caused by cooking equipment. Always be careful in your dorm’s designated cooking areas, and make sure you have access to a nearby extinguisher. Never leave hot stoves or burners unattended.

3. Follow Plug-In Policies

college dorm electrical fire
A burnt smell from a power outlet can indicate an electrical malfunction; call for help immediately.

Before investing in an AC window unit, space heater or floor fan, check your school’s policies on plug-in appliances. Most colleges enforce rules similar to those posted by Chicago State University. The regulations help ensure dorm room fire safety by limiting the number of potential electrical hazards that can cause dangerous short circuits.

4. Don’t Overload Your Room

Resist the temptation to overload power strips. Electrical outlets in dorm rooms are designed to handle a specific amperage, so don’t try to push their capacity with multi-plug devices. Don’t risk a dorm fire by using any electrical equipment with frayed cords or damaged prongs. If you notice scorched marks or burning odors around an outlet, report the problem right away.

5. Respect Smoking Restrictions

dormitory no smoking sign
Smoking in dorm rooms poses a significant fire safety risk.

Both Chicago State and Illinois University maintain smoke-free campuses. The policy makes good sense to colleges because it promotes better student health and it minimizes dangerous fire hazards. If you smoke, always respect restrictions established by your school. That includes bans on vaping in common areas and dorm rooms too.

6. Learn How to Get Out

Most campus dorms have evacuation plans posted on each floor. Don’t wait for the next fire drill to find the best route out of your building. Become familiar with the locations of emergency exits and fire extinguishers on every floor. Knowing what to do before an emergency happens can help you protect yourself and save the lives of others too.

Sharing the Responsibility

chicago college students
Having an open conversation with your college peers about dorm fire safety can help save lives!

Maintaining fire safety on campus is a big responsibility, but it isn’t difficult. The rules are basic, and they affect everyone. For example, the University of Illinois maintains a web page of fire safety guidelines that apply to students, faculty and administration.

Do your part by reporting anything you see that might pose a hazard or hinder an evacuation. As you extend a welcome to new students, help them get familiar with college dorm fire safety tips specific to your school. Big responsibilities are always easier to handle when they’re shared.

Proudly Serving All of Chicago

chicago fire cleanup professionals
Our fire damage restoration crew has been helping colleges and universities in Chicago & the suburbs recover from fire damage since 2008.

We know how exciting it is to make the transition from home to college. We want you to stay safe, so we hope you share our list of tips with friends on and off campus. Let us know about fire safety programs at your school through our Comments Section. We really value your feedback.

As a certified fire restoration company, ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba pledges our commitment to serving your college and the surrounding communities. We’re proud to provide the best emergency fire restoration services in Chicago and the suburbs, and we’re proud to be a part of this great city.