PRR – Students – Wildfires
Prevention and Early Detection
The first step to preparedness for a natural disaster is actively trying to prevent it. First and foremost, make or familiarize yourself with the fire escape plan. It is a good idea to read and listen to dormitory or apartment rules, because many of them are for your own safety and wellbeing. In dorms, there are no candles allowed, most likely due to the fact that the quarters are tight and if a fire starts, it will likely spread to many other students living spaces. If you do choose to use a candle, make sure to keep an eye on it and place it far away from any curtains, clothing, or other flammable materials. Do NOT spray aerosol near an open flame, as it is very flammable.
Second, make sure to unplug all items that are not in use, especially attending to those located in the bathroom. These kinds of devices can reach temperatures over 400 degrees and act as a catalyst for reactions of combustible items such as towels, bedding, etc. In the event that a fire is started, it would be beneficial to have something built in that could stop the spread of the fire, preventing a small fire from becoming a big disaster. This brings the third tip: make use of smoke alarms.
In the dorms, as well as apartment buildings, smoke detectors and sprinklers are installed as a part of safety regulations. If the ability to turn them on/off is made available to you, do NOT turn them off, no matter how many times they go off while you are cooking or showering. Imagine that a fire starts while you are sleeping, how will you know that a fire has started? The smell and air quality will eventually wake you up, but wouldn’t you rather know sooner? This way you will have time to save important items- such as your life- and prevent any injury or damages that you can.
Another important concept is to know where fire hydrants are located so that you may make use of them, whether that be in your house or on campus in a classroom where a chemistry experiment when astray. Studies have shown that people are not aware of the nearest fire hydrant, even when they are located right outside of the room they have visited nearly everyday for years! In the event of a fire, this tool can easily prevent a small fire from becoming devastating.
A final note: keep doorways and windows clear at all time. You never know when a natural disaster could occur and it is always important to have an escape route, especially int he event of a fire.
For further considerations on preventing fires in student housing situations see the following website: https://www.propertymanagementinsider.com/keeping-student-housing-safe-fire-prevention-tips
In the event of a wildfire, the school will notify you. A healthy response practice is to monitor these notification as well as news outlets. Stay vigilant and up to date in case you are required to evacuate. When told you need to evacuate by the school, follow their instructions and act quickly. If on campus, get to your living space if you have time to grab your essential belongings and head to the meet up location. If you are on campus and the fire is near you, alarms will sound and the most important consideration is your safety. Follow evacuation plans and be familiar with fire extinguisher locations.
In the event of an evacuation a student needs to be prepared on what to take with them. It is always a good idea to have a first aid and emergency kits on hand with essentials, such as medications and important documents. However, CalFire has outlined the important items to reach for when evacuating identified as “The 6 ‘P’s:” people and pets, papers/phone numbers/personal documents, prescriptions, pictures/memorabilia, personal computers, and plastic(credit cards) and cash.
Cleaning and taking care of the campus is the responsibility of the school, so likely a student would not be returning to the sight of the fire after it has been put out and deemed safe to return, but not yet safe to live. However, if you are returning to an area that has been burned, follow safety practices such as wearing a mask if need be and being aware of charred trees, ash pits, and re-ignition. See further guidelines at. If items were lost in the fires, students should seek help contacting their parents or their own insurance company. If students are facing any stress or difficulty coping with the events of the wildfire, they should seek aid through the school’s counseling and support offices.