Whether you are moving into a college or university residence, or you have your own place to live, parents, guardians and students should take an active role in finding a safe place to live and talk about fire and life safety.
· Fire exits - A home with an apartment, regardless of number, is required to have proper separated fire exits. A separated exit generally means that a fire anywhere in the building will not affect your ability to leave. Separations usually include fire doors, dry wall ceilings and walls, as well as electric smoke alarms in the shared stairways and corridors. Under the fire code, an apartment contains both a kitchen and a washroom.
· Operating smoke alarms - Are they located outside each sleeping area? The best level of protection is provided when there is at least one alarm on each level of the house. Alarms must be located on the ceiling, or no more than 12 inches down from the ceiling to provide proper warning. Note that it is the building owner's responsibility to maintain these alarms, including changing the batteries. Tenants must test the units monthly and report any problem to the owner. The penalty for removing a battery is a minimum $200 to a maximum $25,000 and or a year imprisonment.
· Adequate exits - There should always be a minimum of two ways out of your bedroom. The window can be considered an exit, but ensure that it is operable, and is of sufficient size and height to allow you to get out in an emergency. Those in a basement that open into a window well must have adequate space to allow exiting.
· Electrical outlets - Are there adequate outlets in the bedrooms for the items you will be using? Avoid the use of extension cords as this can overload the household circuits. Also check for improperly spliced or altered wiring and electrical boxes missing outlet covers as these can create a shock hazard when using them. Never run cords under carpets or attach with nails or staples that can damage the wire. Ensure the electrical plugs in the bedroom have a third prong-grounding feature especially for computer use.
· Carbon monoxide alarms - Any home that contains a fuel fire appliance (those powered by natural gas, propane, or wood stoves and fireplaces) must have carbon monoxide alarms present, outside the sleeping rooms. Ensure that a clearance of at least 1 meter (3 feet) is maintained around all fuel fired appliances.
· House numbers - Ensure that your home is easily identifiable from the street by emergency personnel. House numbers should be at least three inches high.
· Working locks - Check to see if all doors and all windows have them.
It is recommended that you check every room in your accommodation. Do not be afraid to ask questions about the accommodation - you have the right to know.
Some Fire Safety Tips
· Never store gasoline, or propane tanks inside of a building.
· If there are smokers present in the home, check couches and chairs before going to bed or leaving to ensure that there are no smoldering butts. Ashtrays should be emptied into non-combustible cans such as coffee tins and allowed to cool for a minimum of 24 hours before emptying into trash.
· Prepare a home escape plan. If you live on campus or in a multi-unit building, ask management for a copy of the emergency fire procedures for the building. This will provide you with information on what to do in the event of a fire, as well as common fire hazards that may be present in your building.
· Candles must never be left unattended and should be extinguished if leaving the room, even for a moment. Keep away from combustibles including books, papers, curtains. And always have them on a sturdy non-combustible surface.
· Many of the fatal fires that occur involve alcohol. After a night out many people come home with a food craving and decide to cook fries and then fall asleep. Picking up food on the way home could prevent these fires.