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Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Safety and security for students

There are practical steps you can take to improve your safety and security as a student. Especially if you’re moving into new accommodation, make sure you’re familiar with the basics of fire and gas safety, as well as home and personal security.

Fire safety for students

Beware of late-night chips

One in four injuries from house fires started by deep-frying occurs between 10.00 pm and 4.00 am

Every year, around 350 18-24 year olds are injured in accidental house fires started by cigarettes, smoking materials and candles.

It’s also common for fires to start in the kitchen. Over half of accidental house fires are caused by cooking.

By taking a few sensible precautions, you can help protect yourself from injury – or worse:

  • ensure a smoke alarm is installed on every level of your home - and test it weekly
  • never smoke in bed
  • when you finish a cigarette, put it out completely – and make sure all cigarette ends are cold before emptying ashtrays into bins
  • check your furniture has the fire-resistant permanent label
  • be aware of where fire alarms are located and fire equipment is kept
  • plan and practice an escape route with your housemates
  • keep a torch handy to help guide you through smoke

If you live in halls of residence

All universities and colleges have a person responsible for fire safety. If you have any concerns or questions about fire safety in halls – for example, you’ve spotted a fire risk – speak to them.

If you are a disabled student and would need assistance if there was a fire, let the university or college health and safety officer know when you arrive.

You should also:

  • check what the fire safety rules are – such as any ban on candles in rooms
  • pay attention to fire drills and never ignore alarms

Privately rented accommodation

If you live in a private house or flat, make sure it’s fitted with smoke alarms on each level of the property - and that they are tested regularly.

Check that your escape route is clear. For example, make sure there are no bikes blocking your exit in the hallway, and be aware of any windows that are barred.

If you’re a student in England, you can request a home fire safety visit from your local Fire and Rescue Service. They may provide and fit a smoke alarm for free.

Help promote fire safety at your university or college

To find out how you can help promote the fire safety message on campus, speak to your local Fire and Rescue Service.

Each year, the 'Fire Kills' campaign also recruits a limited number of students at selected universities as 'student brand ambassadors'. They raise awareness of fire safety among fellow students by:

  • getting publicity through student magazines
  • distributing leaflets and posters
  • working with the local fire and rescue service to organise a special event, such as a chip pan demonstration

Student ambassadors are usually recruited over the summer.

Gas and carbon monoxide safety

If you’re renting privately, your landlord must ensure that all gas appliances are checked once a year by a ‘Gas Safe Register’ installer.

Your landlord must also show you the safety certificates for all the gas appliances in your property.

Faulty gas appliances are one of the main causes of carbon monoxide poisoning. Remember: you can’t see, smell or hear carbon monoxide.

Personal safety

It’s important to be aware of your own safety. If you are concerned, there are steps you can take. For instance, most universities and colleges offer self-defence classes, or give out personal alarms.

You should also look at the range of facilities and services (for example, late night minibus transport) offered by your local students' union.

Home security

Student accommodation is a notorious target for burglars. This is true of both university-owned and privately rented housing.

Ensure that doors and windows have proper locks fitted. There’s plenty of advice on home security available online.

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