(WWLP) – The State Fire Marshal’s Office is reminding college students to have working smoke alarms and two exits out to safety.

September is National Campus Fire Safety Month. “Best College Roommates EVAH,” makes fun of Bostonians’ accents, but it’s a serious matter of reminding parents and students about the importance of having a fire plan in place. According to the Massachusetts code, every house and apartment must have working smoke alarms.

Two students died in off-campus housing fires in the past 10 years in Massachusetts. There have been more than 2,700 fires in Massachusetts dormitories, sororities, and fraternities causing seven civilian injuries, five fire service injuries, and an estimated $2.9 million in damages within the last five years.

“Thousands of young people will be attending college in Massachusetts this year, and many will be living away from home for the first time,” said State Fire Marshal Ostroskey. “We’re particularly concerned about off-campus housing because that’s where the data shows the greatest loss of life, but fire safety is critical whether you live in a dorm, apartment, single-family home, multifamily dwelling, sorority, or fraternity.”

Do not block windows, doors, or stairways withboxes, furniture, or anything else that might hinder an escape.

“If your rental doesn’t have smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, insist on them,” said State Fire Marshal Ostroskey. “But don’t spend a single night unprotected in the meantime. For the price of a pizza, you can pick up smoke and CO alarms at a hardware store. They could save your life.”

Smoke alarms must be replaced every 10 years and are labeled with their date of manufacture. Carbon monoxide alarms should be replaced every 5 to 7 years, depending on the make and model. Some CO alarms have a 10-year sealed battery. 

“We see too many disabled smoke alarms in fires when people really needed them to work,” State Fire Marshal Ostroskey said. “Modern fires burn and spread faster than they did in past decades, and alarms without batteries put everyone in the building at risk.”

Most fires in Massachusetts are caused by the following according to the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services:

  • Smoking: There is no safe way to smoke, but if you must smoke then use a heavy ashtray or a pail with water or sand for cigarette butts. Don’t flick them on the ground, where they can smolder and ignite debris, or grind them out on porches or steps. Put it out. All the way. Every time.
  • Electrical: Always plug appliances such as air conditioners and space heaters into wall sockets that can handle the current, not power strips or extension cords, and don’t overload outlets with multiple devices.
  • Cooking: Stand by your pan! Don’t leave pots and pans unattended on a lit stovetop, and keep flammable items away from burners. In the event of a grease fire, smother the flames with a lid and then turn off the heat.
  • Candles: Never leave candles burning unattended. Extinguish them before leaving the room. Even better, switch to battery-powered candles.

“Campus Fire Safety Month is a chance to raise awareness among young adults who may be living on their own for the first time,” said State Fire Marshal Ostroskey. “But everyone can contribute to fire safety in their homes and communities, in September and all year round.”