Off To College; Apartment Living
Soon, many young adults will be moving into off-campus housing for the upcoming semester. Many are making that trip without their parents; loading everything into their car and heading off. Wow; big, exciting changes for the student as well as the family left at home. I don’t think it makes you a “helicopter parent” to make sure they are living in a fire-safe environment. It’s simply a part of educating your student to what they need to do to stay safe during the school year.
Send them off with a list of phone numbers, preferably laminated, to post on their refrigerator. Include both the emergency and non-emergency number for the fire and police departments. 911 is the universal emergency phone number in all US states. Include the phone number of the landlord or property management firm for the apartment. Include the 911 address of the apartment. In an emergency, it’s a good idea to have that information available to read; no one knows how they will react in an emergency – answering even simple questions could be difficult.
I know the car is full, but send them off with an ABC fire extinguisher, or better yet, two. One for their bedroom, one for the kitchen. ABC means they work on 3 classes of fire; A = combustible materials like paper or wood. B = flammable liquids like gasoline or oil. C = electrical. Make sure they know to call 911 first, before attempting to put out any fire. It needs to be a small, contained fire to use an extinguisher. Do they know how to use a fire extinguisher?
- P – pull the pin
- A – aim at the base of the fire, not the flame
- S – squeeze the lever
- S – sweep from side-to-side
Checking the fire alarms and carbon monoxide monitors is probably not going to be high on their priority list. On that call home, when they tell you they’ve arrived safely and are all moved in, ask them about the fire alarms and CO monitors.
- Has she/he tested them?
- Is there a smoke alarm for every bedroom, outside the sleeping area, and on every level?
- Are they all interconnected, so when one sounds, they all sound?
If there are no detectors, or they are outdated (have no date of manufacture or are more than 10 years old), or are not functioning correctly, that is not acceptable.
If your child is a smoker, or has friends that smoke, encourage them to smoke only outside, and use sturdy, deep, non-tip ashtrays. Many think a can or disposable cup makes a great ashtray – encourage them to have water in the bottom to extinguish the ashes.
The ambiance of candles is great, but they are so dangerous; they’re an open flame with lots of fuel. Candles need to be placed in sturdy candle holders and placed no less than 12″ from anything that can burn (including >12″ from the maximum that the curtains can move). Candles must be blown out whenever they leave the room or go to bed.
I hope your child has a healthy, safe and wonderful semester while you get used to that empty nest!