|Campus Electrical Safety|
|Library of Articles - College Student Safety|
Teach students about electrical safety before they head to college
As students return to college dormitories, parents are wise to teach them about the safe use of electrical cords and appliances. A case in point involves a 19 year old student at George Washington University who failed to turn off his electric grill overnight. He was critically burned in the ensuing blaze, and 14 other students lost their quarters and belongings when an early morning fire swept through their dormitory.
The tragedy was just one of more than 2,000 fires annually around college campuses, many of which are sparked by ignoring common sense rules of electrical safety. Most young people haven’t had responsibility for electrical safety at home and aren’t aware of considerations like overloading circuits, which can ignite fires.
Students bringing everything from computers, stereos, and TVs to hot plates, blow dryers and curling irons should know to not overload extension cords, power strips and outlets in their room. Extension cords are only for temporary use, and should not be tacked or nailed to any surface or hidden under carpeting where they can be trampled and damaged.
Many electrical appliances have protective covers which should remain in place, like the computer housing which was improperly removed by a 20 year old college student concerned that it would overheat. His perspiration in a hot dormitory room resulted in a fatal electrical shock when he touched the exposed wiring.
Students should not tamper with electrical equipment, whether it is a personal computer or utility equipment. Authorities at Purdue University reported that a student improperly entered a utility closet and was electrocuted by a transformer.
Many college dormitories and student apartments have fewer outlets because they were built before the proliferation of electric equipment now found in the average dorm room. Most, if not all should be unplugged while a student is away from his room, not only for energy efficiency reasons, but primarily for safety.
While the university or college may address fire escape plans in classroom buildings, emergency escape plans should also be developed in private housing, and ensure that emergency exits are well marked. Parents have a role in making certain their student remains safe on campus, and that means knowing what to do when smoke and fire alarms are triggered. It does not take much for wiring to overheat or an electrical appliance to catch fire, and jeopardize the safety of your student.