College Dorm Safety

Furnishing a college dorm room comes with a lot of options for personalization — from bedding and décor to kitchen supplies and electronics. One essential for the college residence is safety.

According to a National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), U.S. fire departments responded to an annual average of 3,810 structure fires in college housing between 2007 and 2011, causing an average of 2 deaths, 30 fire injuries, and $9.4 million in direct property damage.8-2015College

The Grand Haven Board of Light & Power offers the following safety tips for college students to help reduce the risk of electrical fires in their student housing:

  • Only purchase and use electrical products tested for safety. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) publishes a list of approved testing laboratories.  Some common approved safety labels include: UL, CSA, and MET.
  • Avoid overloading extension cords, power strips, or outlets.
  • Use power strips with an over-current protector that will shut off power automatically if too much current is being drawn.
  • If use of an appliance frequently causes power to trip off, or if its power cord or the outlet feels hot, the appliance should be disconnected immediately and the condition reported to the landlord or campus housing staff.
  • Never tack or nail an electrical cord to any surface or run cords across traffic paths or under rugs where they can be trampled or damaged.
  • Use the correct wattage light bulbs for lamps and fixtures. If no indication is on the product, do not use a bulb with more than 60 watts. Use cooler, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs).
  • Keep all electrical appliances and cords safely away from bedding, curtains, papers, and other flammable material.
  • Make sure outlets around sinks are equipped with ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) before use. If they are not, contact the resident assistant, camping housing staff, or landlord.
  • Unplug small appliances when not in use and all electronics when away for extended periods.
  • Always use microwave-safe containers. Metal and aluminum foil can damage the microwave or start a fire. If the microwave is damaged in any way, do not use it.
  • Smoke detectors should never be disabled, and fire alarms should never be ignored or taken casually as a drill. Every time a fire alarm sounds, residents should calmly and quickly follow practiced procedures and immediately exit the building.

The Grand Haven Board of Light & Power is a proud member of Safe Electricity providing electrical safety information.