The next few weeks will see many young people across Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes taking their first steps towards independent living, as they move away from home and into student accommodation ready for the start of their academic year.
Along with a “Welcome” or “Welcome back” to those returning, firefighters in Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes are keen to share some simple tips that could help reduce the risk of being affected by fire in your student “digs”.
Community Safety Manager, Joanne Cook, said: “We know there is a whole mountain of things that family and friends, and students themselves, have to think about and prepare for when starting, or returning to, further education – and even more this year with COVID-19 at the forefront of all our minds.
“We don’t want to add to the load, however we would like to ask you to add these messages to your take away pack, or that of your home leaver, to make sure our students stay safe as they find their feet living away from home for the first time.
“Following the tips could actually help to lighten the load, and make settling in to a new routine that little bit easier.”
Top tips to takeaway:
To reduce the risk of a fire happening in the first place, Joanne recommends that you:
- Do not leave cooking unattended.
- Do not cook if you have been drinking alcohol.
- Ensure candles are in a suitable holder and keep them away from flammable surfaces or textiles.
- Do not overload plug sockets.
- Switch off electrical equipment such as mobile phone chargers when not in use.
- Keep portable heaters away from curtains and furnishings and never dry clothes on them.
When it comes to “moving in”:
- Check what the fire safety rules are – burning items like candles in rooms may be banned.
- Pay attention to fire drills and never ignore alarms.
- Be aware of the procedure of what to do on discovery of a fire or being alerted to a fire.
- If you’ve spotted a fire risk or have concerns, speak to the building manager, person you pay your rent to or student ambassador.
- If you are not satisfied with the response, you can contact the National Union of Students (NUS) for further advice.
- Know your escape route – what is the quickest way out? Also have an alternative route in mind.
- If a fire starts, get out, stay out and call 999.
Joanne adds: “It’s also worth knowing a little bit about the regulations for student accommodation, and checking up on the local arrangements for your accommodation.”
Legislation relating to accommodation
Any new-build or refurbished building in England & Wales, including student halls, must comply with the 2010 Building Regulations. These buildings also need to comply with the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS).
Providers of student accommodation blocks have a responsibility to comply with fire safety legislation and give advice to their tenants on the fire safety arrangements and procedures for their particular building.
In some building types the residents are told to evacuate the building, whilst in others, especially high rise buildings, they may have a ‘stay put’ policy.
Joanne’s final two top tips:
“As young people move into student accommodation blocks, it is essential that they know the evacuation strategy in place for their building.
“Finally, a really useful document to read through is the NUS leaflet Fire safety and high rise student accommodation. This contains information on the Grenfell Tower fire, the potential implications for students living in high rise halls, and what students and students’ unions can do to ensure student safety. It also provides contact details if you have specific queries or concerns.”