rental accommodation

Students and fire risk

In our last blog we looked at the older community, a vulnerable group in terms of fire risk.

Another vulnerable group is young people – school leavers and students, those who have just entered adulthood and independent living.

As Ian Lambie et al. point out in this recent research from Auckland University  [abstract only],

“18–24 year olds are at risk due to membership in high risk groups [such as] renting,crowded housing, socio-economic status, substance use and smoking.”

Student vulnerability in rental accommodation is also reported in research commissioned this year by UK safety charity Electrical Safety First (press release).  The National Union of Students (NUS) surveyed over 1100 students in rented accommodation.  Reported problems included unfixed exposed wiring, unresolved issues of damp or water around the electrics, ignored scorching around sockets and light fittings, and problems with broken, damaged or overheating appliances supplied with the property. Most of these stem from landlord negligence rather than student behaviour.

Students in hostels and halls of residence are similarly vulnerable, mostly due to risky activities, according to this 2013 research commissioned by UK insurer, Zurich Municipal (Press release).  The report’s findings include:

‘two thirds of students (66%) have cooked after midnight and one in two (50%) have done so under the influence of alcohol, but a significant number (33%) aren’t aware of the fire safety procedures in their halls….  43% admitting they dry clothes over a heater or radiator, 24% often burning candles or incense and 43% doing all of this while also storing alcohol in their student room.’

In response, the insurers created this mnemonic for a STUDENT to manage fire risk:

Snack smart: get a takeaway or cold snack if you are planning a big night out.

Turn off: …cooking appliances, hair straighteners, mobile phone chargers

Unclog your sockets: overloading electrical sockets can be a common source for fires.

Dry safely: Covering lamps or heaters with clothes or fabrics is a major fire risk.

Escape route: be aware of where the fire exits are.

No naked flames: Remember to put out cigarettes properly, take care using candles

Test your smoke detector: test your smoke detector regularly.

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