Off-campus fires often fueled by alcohol use
Today's USA TODAY examines the causes of recent fatal fires at off-campus residences across the nation. They found that alcohol use was a common denominator:
One-quarter of these fires followed a party, and in 59% of them, at least one of the dead students had been drinking, the USA TODAY analysis found. In 21 cases in which an autopsy report showed the deceased's blood alcohol content, the median level was .12%, and the highest was .304%. A person with an alcohol reading of .08% is considered by the nation's traffic laws to be too drunk to drive.
Students who have been drinking and then go to sleep may be especially vulnerable if a fire breaks out:
Experts say that alcohol can deaden sleeping students to the sounds and smells of danger.
"Even if you wake up in time, you may not make a rational decision. You may go down a hall toward a fire instead of away. You may not remember where emergency exits are," says Steven Avato, a special agent and certified fire investigator for U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
"It makes your decision-making process much harder, if you are able to respond at all."
Read the whole story.
In addition to talking to your student about alcohol use, the Parent Program offers the following fire safety points you may want to discuss with students living in off-campus dwellings:
*Are smoke detectors working? Check batteries. Do not disable smoke detectors.
*Are there fire extinguishers? Do you know how to operate them? Are they in working order? Can you reach them easily?
*Think about an escape route from each room. If the doorway to a room is blocked, what is your alternative route? If you had to exit the room through a window, would you need a fire ladder?
*The most common causes of fire are candles, cigarettes, and halogen lights. Never leave candles burning unattended and never put anything (paper, fabric, etc.) over a halogen light.
*If wiring is exposed or if you notice problems with light fixtures or appliances, contact your landlord immediately for repairs.