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Earn an “A” in college electrical safety

The start of each semester comes with a fresh start for college students, along with the potential for new friends and opportunities. Alongside the excitement of college comes great responsibility. One of these responsibilities is electrical safety in one’s dorm room or apartment. To help with keeping the semester on track and staying safe, Safe Electricity shares electrical safety tips for college students.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, on average there are 3,870 campus fires each year. Between 2000 and 2015, 11 percent of these campus fires were electrical in nature.

As you move in your books and clothes and re-arrange your furniture, also make sure to conduct a visual inspection of switches, outlets, and light fixtures. Report any damaged or discolored equipment to the resident assistant or apartment manager for repair or replacement. Also, make sure outlets around sinks are equipped with ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) before use. If they are not, contact resident assistant, camping housing staff, or landlord.

Safe Electricity provides these additional tips for college students:

  • Check with campus housing regulations on what electronics are acceptable to bring. Do not bring prohibited items that could create safety hazards.
  • Only purchase and use electrical products tested for safety. Some common approved safety labels include: Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL), Canadian Standards Association (CSA), and MET Laboratories (MET).
  • Never block an exit or impact fire sprinklers. It is important that windows and doors are accessible so that escape routes are clear in case of an emergency.
  • Never tack or nail an electrical cord to any surface or run cords across traffic paths or underneath rugs where they can be trampled or damaged.
  • Be sure to use the correct wattage light bulbs for lamps and fixtures.
  • Five electronic devices plugged into one power strip.Do not overload your electrical outlets, power strips, or extension cords.
  • Use power strips with an over-current protector that will shut off power automatically if there is too much current being drawn.
  • Potentially older wiring in student housing and apartments may not be able to handle the increased electrical demand of today’s college student. 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 housing manager.
  • Keep all electrical appliances and cords safely away from bedding, curtains, papers, and other flammable material.
  • 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 always take all fire alarms and drills seriously. Every time a fire alarm sounds, residents should calmly and quickly follow practiced procedures and immediately exit the building.

For more college safety tips, go to Dorm Safety at

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