Fire Safety and Prevention

Learn not to burn

You’re asleep in your room. Suddenly you’re awakened by a commotion outside the door. You smell smoke. FIRE! Do you know what you must do to save your life?

Fire and toxic smoke can spread through a building in a matter of minutes. It is essential that you know the emergency measures necessary to survive.

This page suggests ways to prevent fires from occurring and what to do if a fire should occur.

Familiarize yourself with your building

Whether in resident housing or an academic building, familiarize yourself with all means of exit.

Does your window open? Don’t guess. Try it. If you have to break it, what will you use?

How high up are you? If you live above the first floor, make sure you have a way to reach the ground safely.

What is outside your window? Is there a fire escape or other safe means of exit available?

Know the location of the closest alarm pull box, fire extinguisher, and standpipe hose cabinet.

If you discover or suspect a fire

If you discover a fire or if heavy smoke is present, sound the building fire alarm. If there is no alarm or the alarm fails to operate, warn the other occupants by knocking on doors and shouting a warning.

If the fire is out of control or if heavy smoke is present, leave the building immediately. Call the Fire Department, 9-911, and Security Services, ext. 4444. Don’t assume that someone else has called. When emergency personnel arrive, direct them to the fire.

Fire extinguishing devices should be used only after the alarm has been sounded and the Fire Department and Security Services have been notified. Then, only if you feel capable, a small incipient fire may be attacked by using an extinguisher. Don’t expose yourself to heavy smoke. The toxic gasses in smoke can render you unconscious in a few seconds.

In the event a fire or smoke has been detected

If you are awakened by a commotion outside your room, a fire alarm, or anything unusual, investigate! Don’t roll over and go back to sleep. It could be a fatal error.

Always evacuate the building immediately when a fire alarm is sounding.

Keep low to the floor if smoke is present.

Before opening the door:

  • Feel the door knob. If it is hot, do not open the door.
  • If the knob is not hot, brace yourself against the door and open it slightly (fire can create pressure enough to push open a door if it is not held firmly). If heat or heavy smoke is present in the corridor, close the door and stay in the room.

If you cannot leave the room:

  • Open the windows. If your windows are the type that can be raised and lowered, open the top to let out heat and smoke; open the bottom to let in fresh air.
  • Don’t break the window to let in fresh air. If smoke should start to pour in later, you won’t be able to prevent it. The only time to break the window is if smoke or fire enters your room and the window won’t open. Cover jagged glass with a blanket if you can’t clear it out.
  • Seal cracks around the door with towels or bedding to keep out smoke.
  • Hang an object such as a sheet, jacket, shirt, or anything that will attract attention on the window. Shout for help.
  • If smoke seeps into your room, put a wet cloth over your nose to act as a filter.

If your clothing catches on fire:

  • STOP do not panic or run.
  • DROP to the ground with your arms across your chest.
  • ROLL on the ground, in a rug or blanket if possible.
  • COOL minor burns with cold water. Severe burns should be treated by a physician or person trained in first aid.

If you can leave the room:

  • Close all doors behind you as you exit. This will retard the spread of smoke and lessen damage.
  • Go to the nearest exit or stairway. DO NOT USE AN ELEVATOR.
  • If the nearest exit is blocked by smoke, heat, or fire, go to an alternate exit.
  • If all exits are blocked, go back to your room, close the door, and follow the procedure described above.

After leaving the building, stand clear at a distance of at least 500 feet.

Fire Prevention

Fire fighting equipment must be in good working order at all times. Equipment that isn’t in proper working order should be reported to Facilities or Security Services personnel.

Individuals observed tampering with fire detection or fire fighting devices should be reported to Security Services immediately. Your safety may depend on it!

Never leave candles, incense, or other potential fire hazards burning in your room while you are asleep or away from your room, even if only for a few minutes.

Smoking in bed is dangerous and shouldn’t be done.

Make certain that matches, ashes, and cigarette butts are completely extinguished before placing them in the trash.

Possession and/or use of most fireworks is prohibited by Minnesota state law. The use of fireworks in or around campus buildings creates a fire hazard.

Electrical appliances such as hot plates, percolators, irons, and similar heat-producing contrivances are not permitted to be used in resident rooms.

Electrical appliances authorized for use in resident housing should be UL approved.

Electrical extension cords should never be run under a rug or floor mat. By doing so, the insulation on the cord may be worn off and a short circuit and/or fire may occur.

Do not overload electrical outlets by running too many extension cords from a single outlet. Always use heavy-duty three-prong grounded extension cords. Too light of a cord may cause a short circuit and/or fire.

Report recurring problems such as blown fuses, tripped circuit breakers, or overheating appliances to Facilities or Security Services personnel.

Do not disable self-closing doors.

Flammable ceiling hangings (flags, fishnets, posters, etc.) are prohibited in College-owned housing.

Posters and other items hung on walls should be secured flush to the walls on all sides.

All rubbish should be disposed of as soon as possible.

Test your room/corridor smoke detectors monthly. Never disable a smoke detector. Smoke detectors that are not in proper working order should be reported to Facilities or Security Services personnel.

If you live in a house, designate an outside meeting place with your housemates. In the event of a fire or other emergency, go to the meeting place so everyone can be accounted for.

Keep heat-producing appliances away from furniture, curtains, bedding, or towels. Give televisions, stereos, and computers plenty of air-space so they won’t overheat.

Always turn space heaters off when you go to bed or leave the room.

Keep fire doors, stairways, hallways, windows, and exits clear at all times.

Do not store flammable liquids in your residence hall room.

Report fire hazards to Security Services immediately.

Do not leave stoves/ovens unattended while cooking.

If a grease fire starts, cover the pan with a lid to smother the flames and turn off the burner. NEVER put water on a grease or electrical fire.

Never store anything near the furnace or heater. An 18-inch clearance must be maintained around these items at all times.