How to Stay Safe in a Dorm or Apartment Fire

    This summer, Colorado experienced the worst wildfire the state has ever seen. The Waldo Canyon Fire made national headlines for weeks while the firefighters fought to contain the flames, battling fierce winds and parched lands. The fire burned more than 18,000 acres, destroying 346 homes and killing two people.
    The nation watched on in horror, realizing that the same thing could happen to them. With wildfires popping up all over the country during this summer fire season, any area could be affected next. Don’t wait until you’re in danger to make a plan. Use the following guidelines to make sure everyone in your house is ready for the unexpected.

Talk about it

     Have everyone in your household make a list of a few important valuables that they want taken in case they aren’t home. Once an evacuation is issued, you probably won't be allowed to return to your home, even if it is just to grab a few things. It’s also a good idea to talk to your neighbors or your RA. If you have a pet, ask your neighbors or your RA if they would be willing to get them out of the house or your room in case of an emergency.

Make a plan

    Discuss with your housemates and roommates what to do if you’re evacuated. Plan at least two different routes out of your neighborhood in case your primary route is blocked and decide on a meeting spot in the case that you can’t reach one another. Discuss where you would stay. If you or your roommate has family nearby, ask them if they’d be willing to house you in case of an emergency. Don’t wait until you’re kicked out to figure out where you would go.

Reduce your risk

    There are ways to reduce the risk of damage before a fire starts. If you live in a house, be sure to clear your yard of debris regularly. Yes, that means raking and mowing. Clear broken branches and trim trees around your lawn. The less material around your house that can burn, the less likely it is that the fire will catch there.

Be informed

    If you hear of a fire in your area, be sure to listen to local radio and watch local news stations. If your house or apartment has a landline, you will get a reverse 911 call informing you of the evacuation. However, if you only have a cell phone, you will not get a call. Make sure you’re paying attention to which areas are being evacuated. If you’re in a dorm or on-campus housing, the school will be keeping track of evacuations as well. Check your email regularly and give your RA your phone number so that he or she can contact you if you’re away.