Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service (HWFRS) is welcoming students to their new accommodation with a gentle reminder to stay alert to fire hazards.
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. In our own area, during the last ten years (1 Jan 2012 - 31 Dec 2021), HWFRS attended 109 incidents in student accommodation, seven of which involved a fire.
These included 56 in Herefordshire and 53 in Worcestershire. Of these incidents, 21 (nearly 20%) were started by cooking appliances. Therefore, as students get used to university and college life in our two counties after the excitements of Freshers Week, HWFRS is encouraging them to remain fire aware, whether cooking or using electrical appliances. Not only are they getting to grips with a mountain of course work and fending for themselves after living at home, they are also having to get their heads around cooking knowledge and ability.
Emma Roberts, HWFRS Head of Prevention, 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. 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.
"This also applies when you're using electrical appliances maybe more than you did at home.
"By following these Fire Kills campaign top tips, you can help make sure that your student experience is a fire-safe and fun filled experience." We're urging students to use our top tips for fire safety.
So here are some Dos and Don'ts to help keep you safe:
- Test 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
- Ensure you fit smoke alarms on every level of your accommodation and test them regularly
- Check toasters are clean and kept away from curtains and kitchen rolls
- Keep electrics (leads and appliances) away from water
- Make sure you know your escape routes for a quick but safe exit
- If a fire occurs: Get out, Stay out and Call 999
- 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
- For more student fire safety tips, visit our website
- Never throw water over a frying pan and don't tackle the fire yourself
- Don't cook if you've been drinking alcohol, especially late at night
- If you smoke, make sure you put your cigarette out, right out
- Don't overload plug sockets and switch off electrical equipment, eg chargers, hair straighteners and blow dryers, when not in use For more student fire safety tips, there is a wealth of guidance at www.hwfire.org.uk/safety-and-advice/home-safety.
"Each and every university or college has a person responsible for fire safety. So if you spot a fire risk or have any concerns, please let someone know immediately."