My name is Guninder Nagi and I am a District Prevention Officer within Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service's (NFRS) Prevention Team. I cover the city district and have been working in this role for many years. There are roughly around 60,000 students in Nottingham across two universities, Nottingham Trent University and the University of Nottingham, and I've have been working with students for the last couple of years to make sure that they are staying safe from fire.
Below are a few tips to keep you safe, and whether it's your first year and you have moved away from home for the first time, or you are entering your second or third years, it is always good to take a few minutes just to remind yourselves of how to keep safe.
Stay safe and enjoy life! Are you at risk from fire?
Partying, smoking and drinking may all be part of the student lifestyle, but could be putting you at higher risk of fire. Over the past five years, cigarettes, smoking materials and candles have been the cause of 1,500 injuries to 18 to 24 year olds .
That's quite surprising, isn't it? Well did you also know that more than half of accidental dwelling fire deaths amongst this age group occur in the kitchen when cooking, handling hot substances, or through the misuse of electrical equipment.
Learning how to cook when you are a student can be a pretty daunting task, but it really is very simple to make sure you do this safely. Make sure that you never leave any cooking unattended as this can easily spread out of control.
Here are my top 10 fire safety tips to help keep you safe, for whether you're living in student halls or a house with friends.
Top ten fire safety tips
- Fit smoke alarms on each level of the property and test them weekly.
- Never leave cooking unattended.
- Never attempt to cook while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Don't overload plug sockets.
- Switch off electrical appliances, like phone chargers and hair straighteners, when not in use.
- Take extra care with cigarettes and smoking materials.
- Never leave candles unattended.
- Check furniture has the permanent fire-resistant label.
- Practice an escape route.
- If a fire starts, get out, stay out and dial 999
Smoke alarms save lives
Having a working smoke alarm really can be the difference between life and death. Fit one on every level of your property and check them weekly. Never remove the batteries to use elsewhere, and make sure you always have spares.
It is also really important that you never cover smoke alarms as they are vital in alerting you to the first signs of fire.
It is always good to keep in mind that you are living with others and it is not just your safety that you need to think of. Perhaps you could spend time with those you live with to familiarise yourself with your buildings escape plan in case of fire.
It has recently come to the attention of the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) and Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service that door wedges may have been distributed to some students for marketing purposes by some companies.
The intention behind them was to encourage students to make new friends by propping open their doors. Whilst we appreciate there was no harmful intention behind the gift, we would like to ask that these are not used to wedge open designated fire doors.
The purpose of a fire door is to save lives by limiting fire spread. If a door is propped open it cannot do this. Also, if a fire door is propped open it can warp and will no longer close correctly – again this can reduce its effectiveness in the event of a fire.
These doors are an important part of the passive fire protection which is especially important in multiple occupancy buildings such as student accommodation. It is worth mentioning that fire doors, including flat doors off landings and stairwells come under the Regulatory Reform Order which is enforced by the Fire and Rescue Service.
So please make sure that you are not propping open any fire doors as this could put yourself and your housemates at risk.
NFRS attends thousands of emergency calls each year and provides a life-saving response to people in traumatic and dangerous situations. Deliberate false alarms prevent us from responding to genuine emergencies and take up valuable time and resources. These types of incidents put lives at risk and are serious offences that can also have tragic consequences.
Fire extinguishers and fire safety equipment are provided for the protection of the public, students and staff. Malicious activation of fire extinguishers or tampering with fire safety equipment is a criminal offence. Please make sure that you are only calling 999 in a real emergency, and make sure to respect any firefighting equipment, as you never know when you might need this.