Your Safety Matters

Tips to Avoid Off-Campus Housing Fires

DC Fire and Emergency Medical Services Departments offers these tips to avoid a fire:

  • Make sure there are working smoke alarms in all sleeping areas and hallways, stairwells etc. Test the alarm to make sure it is working. If the dwelling does not have a smoke alarm, contact the Office of the Fire Marshal at 202-727-1600 to report no smoke alarm or any fire code violation.
  • Know two ways out of every room. Make sure all windows will open. If bars are installed on the windows they must be releasable or removable from the inside without the use of a key, tool or force greater than that which is required for normal operation of the window.
  • Have and practice an escape plan make sure all occupants understand. Have a common meeting point outside the dwelling. Don’t reenter the building once you have left.
  • If the dwelling utilizes fossil burning fuels a carbon monoxide should be installed to detect any carbon monoxide leaks.
  • Keep candles away from flammable items and never leave one burning unattended.
  • Don’t overload extension cords, only used UL approved extension cords and power strips. Don’t daisy chain multiple power strips.
  • Keep a UL-listed multipurpose fire extinguisher in the home, if an apartment an extinguisher should be mounted in a cabinet or mounted on the wall in the hallway. Make sure extinguisher is in date and fully charged.
  • If you use a space heater make sure it is UL approved and is not operating too close to combustible items including bedding and clothing. Kerosene heaters are illegal to use in the District of Columbia.
  • If you do smoke make sure all cigarettes are placed into ashtrays. Before dumping ashtrays, pour small amount of water to cover all smoking materials.
  • If your dwelling has a fireplace make sure all ashes are cleaned and place in approved containers.
  • Never put ashes in paper bags or dispose of close to dwellings.