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Fire Safety

Fire safety regulations and emergency response procedures are different throughout the world. In some countries, fire regulations are nonexistent. Moreover, proper resources for fire crews may be sparse and buildings may have been constructed without safety in mind. 

Main causes of building fires

  • Faulty electrical wiring or lighting equipment
  • Carelessness with cooking/heating appliances, cigarettes, or candles

Reduce your risk

If in control of your housing options, select a hotel or residence where a fire truck could reach you:

  • In industrialized countries, avoid living above the 7th floor.
  • In developing countries, avoid living above the 3rd floor since most fire-fighting equipment in such locations is rudimentary.
  • Also avoid living on the first floor if all the windows are barred.
  • Check your residence for fire escapes and smoke detectors. Know where the fire extinguishers are located and how to use them.
  • Do not overload circuits and limit the number of appliances plugged into the same extension cord.
  • Know whom to call in the event of a fire.
  • Check that the smoke detectors have working batteries.
  • Sleep with bedroom doors closed. A closed door can slow the spread of a fire.
  • If there are no smoke detectors in your residence, purchase one from a local store or online.
  • Students should ask a staff member from the program (if applicable) to walk through a ‘home check’ to determine whether or not there are fire hazards in the residence.
  • All travelers should plan and practice an escape route from their residence in case of fire.
  • Travelers should have a nightly routine that includes locking all doors/windows, making sure the stove and oven are off and that any candles used were properly extinguished.

If you are in a fire

  • Check to see if a door is hot before opening it. If the door is hot and it is opened, the backdraft pulls all the available oxygen out of the room and makes it more difficult to breath.
  • Never waste time getting dressed or grabbing valuables.
  • If escaping through a window, make sure the door in the room is closed; otherwise, a draft from the open window may draw fire and smoke into the room.
  • Most people die of smoke inhalation before coming into contact with fire. If you need to run through smoke to exit a building, cover your mouth and nose with a wet shirt or towel.
  • If clothes catch fire, drop to the ground and roll over and over to extinguish the flames. The flames can also be put out with a blanket or rug. Never run.
  • Never use an elevator during a fire.
  • Contact local emergency services.