See It Before You Sign It campus fire safety campaign raises awareness of off-campus housing fire hazards

April 24, 2017 – As part of an effort to help reduce fire deaths on U.S. college campuses, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), Campus Firewatch, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) are teaming up again this year to promote See It Before You Sign It, a campaign aimed at parents and college students to raise awareness about off-campus housing fire hazards. The campaign provides information and action steps for families currently searching for off-campus housing for the fall term and for summer and semester abroad programs.

Having important fire safety measures in place in the home or apartment is often overlooked by students who are more interested in finding housing that is inexpensive, close to campus or provides them with their own bedroom. The See It Before You Sign It campaign encourages parents to bridge that knowledge gap and take a more active role in helping their loved ones choose secure, fire-safe housing.

Recommendations include:

  • Using a checklist on move-in day to help ensure there are working smoke alarms and two ways out of the house, especially if parents are unable to view the property before the lease is signed
  • Installing smoke alarms on move-in day, if the unit does not have them
  • Purchasing an escape ladder If the rental is on an upper floor and the second way out is a window

USFA’s recent report shows that from 2000 to 2015, 94 percent of fatal campus fires took place in off-campus housing. USFA identified three factors contributing to the majority of these fires: 

  • Smoke alarms were either missing or had been tampered with (disconnected or battery removed)
  • Improper disposal of cigarettes (on couches and other flammable furniture)
  • A student’s impaired judgment due to alcohol
NFPA states that having fire sprinklers and working smoke alarms increases a person’s chance of surviving a home fire by more than 80 percent. If parents can’t physically be present at a site visit, taking a virtual tour of the property through Skype or Facetime helps ensure that the most informed decision is being made with fire safety in mind.

Campaign resources including off-campus and dorm fire safety tips, infographics, social media messages, videos and checklists, can be found on the Campus FirewatchU.S. Consumer Product Safety CommissionU.S. Fire Administration and NFPA websites. Follow the campaign on Twitter at #OffCampusFire. 

About Campus Firewatch
Campus Firewatch is a social entrepreneurship focused on helping save lives at our nation’s campuses. Facebook | @campusfirewatch

About the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with the use of thousands of types of consumer products under the agency’s jurisdiction. Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product incidents cost the nation more than $1 trillion annually. CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical or mechanical hazard. CPSC’s work to ensure the safety of consumer products - such as toys, cribs, power tools, cigarette lighters and household chemicals – contributed to a decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 40 years.

Federal law bars any person from selling products subject to a publicly-announced voluntary recall by a manufacturer or a mandatory recall ordered by the Commission.

For more lifesaving information, follow CPSC on Facebook, Instagram @USCPSC, Twitter @USCPSC or sign up to receive email alerts. To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury go online to www.SaferProducts.gov or call CPSC’s Hotline at 800 638-2772 or teletypewriter at 301-595-7054 for the hearing impaired.

About the United States Fire Administration
As an entity of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency, the mission of the U.S. Fire Administration is to provide national leadership to foster a solid foundation for our fire and emergency services stakeholders in prevention, preparedness and response.

About the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
Founded in 1896, NFPA is a global, nonprofit organization devoted to eliminating death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards. The association delivers information and knowledge through more than 300 consensus codes and standards, research, training, education, outreach and advocacy; and by partnering with others who share an interest in furthering the NFPA mission. For more information, visit www.nfpa.org. All NFPA codes and standards can be viewed online for free at www.nfpa.org/freeaccess.

Contact: Lorraine Carli, Public Affairs Office: +1 617 984-7275