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September sees many young adults fleeing the nest for the first time as they embark on their University journey. West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service offer advice on how students can help reduce the risk of Fire. Sadly, advice comes from experience. Though written for students, these tips are useful refreshers for us all…

Thousands of teenagers are currently heading off to universities across West Yorkshire. For many it’s a first taste of independence as they fly the nest and go it solo, living in halls of residence or university digs.

As Freshers’ Weeks/Fortnights kick off across the county, we want young people to enjoy the new freedom open to them – but do so safely!

First time away from home is a chance to let your hair down but also presents the added responsibility of ensuring your own safety without mum and dad to fall back on!

Here are some basic survival tips.

When you arrive at your new digs:

  • Don’t overload plug sockets.
  • Remember to switch off electrical equipment such as hair straighteners, blow dryers and mobile phone chargers when not in use.
  • Do not leave laptops on top of bedding when plugged in as they can overheat and start a fire. 
  • Secure portable heaters up against a wall, so they don’t fall over. Keep them away from curtains and furnishings and never dry clothes on them.
  • Establish where your nearest escape route is in the event of a fire.
  • If there isn’t already one present, fit a smoke alarm on each level of the property and test it weekly.
  • If the building you are living in is managed by the university or a private landlord speak to them if you have any concerns. 

Cooking

  • Don’t leave cooking unattended. 
  • Take extra care when frying with oil as this is an extremely common cause of fire. If one does occur, NEVER put water on it, as it will turn into a fireball.
  • Ensure your cooking appliances are kept clean – a build-up of grease can cause a fire.
  • After a night out get a takeaway – cooking and alcohol do not mix. 

Candles

  • Keep candles away from flammable surfaces or textiles such as curtains, TV sets or bath tubs and never leave them unattended.
  • Always remember to extinguish them properly before going to sleep.

Smoking

  • Take extra care when smoking inside especially if you have consumed alcohol.
  • Don’t smoke in bed and make sure you’ve extinguished your cigarette properly before you go to sleep.
  • Use a proper ashtray made of non-combustible material – never a bin.

E-cigarettes

  • Do not buy counterfeit products.
  • Although they are charged via a USB port - ONLY USE the charger supplied with the product to prevent the battery exploding.
  • Never leave unattended whilst on charge.

Lisa Toner, District Prevention Manager for Leeds, said: “Make sure you and your housemates know the quickest way out in the event of fire and consider an alternative route in case your usual one is blocked. If a fire starts get out, stay out and dial 999.

“I would also ask students to dispose of their waste responsibly to prevent deliberate fire setting of combustible materials in the community.”

Know your rights: In all properties the Landlord must:

  • Ensure gas appliances are installed and maintained annually by a Gas Safe registered plumber.
  • Maintain wiring and electrical appliances they provide to ensure they are safe to use.
  • Make sure any furniture and furnishings they provide meet the fire resistance regulations.

For further fire safety information visit www.westyorksfire.gov.uk where a free Home Fire Safety Check can be booked online. Alternatively call 0800 587 4536 to make arrangements.

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