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Ring of Fire: Safety under the Spotlight

The University of Nottingham is helping students in Lenton stay safe from fire due to the alarming increase in the number of young people losing their lives in domestic fires. Latest Fire Statistics reveal that the number of people aged 17 to 24 killed in accidental house fires, in England, increased by 14% from 2006 to 2007.

As part of this new campaign the university has appointed a student ‘Fire Kills’ Ambassador, Laura McIlwaine. She is one of 24 students specifically funded by the Government who is working to promote fire safety messages to students at Nottingham Uni.

New survey results also show that people vastly underestimate the impact of toxic smoke: Of those surveyed:
• almost half (43%) believed they could survive for more than two minutes in a smoke filled room; and
• nearly half (48%) thought they would be alerted to a fire by the smell of the smoke.
• almost a fifth (18%) believed a pet eg their dog barking, or someone else would alert them to a house fire.

The only way to buy vital time to escape from a house fire is by having a working smoke alarm. Ben Whittaker, the National Union for Students’ (NUS) National Vice President Welfare, commented: “It’s an exciting time for all new and returning students, but it’s as important as ever that students are mindful of fire safety in their accommodation – and if safety standards aren’t adequate, it is vital students address this by complaining to their landlord.”

Martin Molloy of Fire and Rescue Service HQ in Nottingham: “We are particularly concerned about students, because despite an overall drop in the number of fatal fires in England, we have seen an alarming increase in the number of young people losing their lives in domestic fires. For students moving out of the family home into digs, it may feel like a ‘Great Escape’. However, when you live in your own accommodation, you need to know what to do in the event of a fire and that includes knowing how to get out in the event of a fire – the greatest escape of all.

“As the new Fire Kills: Drowning in Smoke advert highlights, it only takes a couple of breaths of toxic smoke to make a person unconscious. So make sure you have a working smoke alarm and test it every week. It’s a small device but it could save your life. Fire safety advice from Nottingham Fire and Rescue Service is just one telephone call away and we are always happy to assist.”

Fire Kills campaign top tips for ensuring you stay safe from fire in your home:
• Fit smoke alarms on each level of the house and test them weekly
• Never leave cooking unattended
• Take extra care with cigarettes and smoking materials and never smoke in bed – when a cigarette is finished, put it out, right out!
• Never leave candles or tea lights unattended and ensure that they are put in safe holders
• Switch off electrical appliances when not in use, unless they’re designed to stay on – like a freezer
• Check furniture has the fire-resistant permanent label
• Plan and practice an escape route with your housemates
• If a fire starts get out, stay out and call 999

Nottingham Fire Service offers free Home Fire Risk Checks to local students. They will visit your home and advise on the best escape route to take, check your home for fire hazards and may also install a working smoke alarm free of charge. For more information on how to protect you and your housemates from fire and to book a home fire risk check or download leaflets, visit www.direct.gov.uk/firekills.

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