REBECCA BAINER — News Writer
When living away from home for the first time, students must adjust in a number of ways. One way should be learning to practice fire safety and knowing an evacuation route for their new home, according to Dave Berardesca, Hamden fire chief.
Just a few weeks ago three people died in a fire in a home in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. shared by Marist students. According to the Poughkeepsie Journal website, authorities said they all died of smoke inhalation and an investigation is still ongoing.
Southern students should have a basic safety plan in the dorm and Berardesca said that plan should start with the most important safety measure, an evacuation plan.
“Number one, definitely know your evacuation route or your escape route,” said Berardesca. “If there is a plan for meeting in a certain area or a certain room, that’s also part of the process.”
Berardesca said this is important because it allows for an accountability plan, so officials know who is missing and who is safely out of the building.
Berardesca said everyone should also be aware of what the smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in their building sound like, as well as how to tell the two alarms apart.
“You need to know what kind of detector is actually sounding,” said Berardesca.
Students learn the warning signals through fire drills, which Berardesca said should be practiced often, however it is extremely important that everyone takes a drill seriously.
“One thing we do find with not just colleges, but any facility that has a large number of occupants, is sometimes they’ll get complacent and they hear the fire alarm and they won’t leave thinking it’s just another fire drill,” said Berardesca. “Every time the alarm sounds you should treat it as an emergency, whether it happens six times that week, that one time might be the time you really need to leave the building.”
Robert Demezzo, associate director of Residence Life, said there are state laws that require the campus to practice fire drills.
“The state of Connecticut does require fire drills every year, which we do in conjunction with the facilities department,” said Demezzo. “Typically our staff are not aware of them; they are a drill.”
Demezzo said during these drills a full evacuation of the building is practiced.
“A fire drill is treated just like a standard fire alarm,” said Demezzo. “The facilities with the police will pull the alarm. Students and staff wouldn’t know the difference.”
Berardesca said there are a number of things students can do to practice safety every day and avoid starting a fire in the first place, especially when rushing around cooking.
“If you’re cooking you should follow the same basic rules you would follow at home,” said Berardesca. “Make sure you would attend the oven or stove at all times.”
There are a number of items prohibited from dorms said Demezzo, including: candles, incense, plastic lamp shades and wicker waste baskets. These policies are listed for students to be aware of. In order to make sure students aren’t using any of these items, Demezzo said dorm checks take place.
“We do bi-weekly health and safety inspections,” said Demezzo,.“Fire safety is one of the components.”
Erika Shore, a resident advisor at Wilkinson Hall, said for the most part students adhere to these rules.
“They’re pretty good,” said Shore. “The worst that we’ll find is that we’ll find a couple of extension chords.”
Shore said in addition to following these policies, students are also good participants in drills.
“We tell them even if it’s a drill, lock your doors and get out of your room,” said Shore. “Once in a while we’ll have one person who is sleeping, but they’re usually pretty good.”