Fire Safety Tips

Fire safety is important for everyone to know about, and practice on a daily basis. Did you know that the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) states that chances are that you will have a fire in your lifetime, and that your household can expect 5 fires in an average lifetime? Through preparation and education, we can limit the severity of these fires and most may not even be reportable.

In this section you will find some fire safety tips, that will help you avoid a preventable fire. You will find several flyers that can be printed off for reference, housing checklists when renting off-campus housing units, as well as some interesting videos and other fire facts.

Phone: 608-265-5000 (Ext: 6)

Jeff Schiller
Environmental Health Manager (Fire & Life Safety)
Cell phone: 608-225-7693

Fire Safety Tips by Hazard

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Candles and open flames are not allowed by UW Campus Policy or UW Housing Policy. Those that live in off-campus housing need to follow specific agreements in lease agreement and keep some basic safety tips in mind.

  • Use sturdy holders & put out the candle after each use.
  • Don’t leave a burning candle unattended.
  • Keep all combustible materials at least 12 inches away from burning candles.


Cook only where it is permitted. Certain cooking appliances are prohibited on UW grounds. Don’t leave your cooking unattended. Don’t cook after you have been drinking. NEVER put water on a grease fire, the results can be devastating.

Electrical Safety

With more and more electronics and computers these days safe electrical practices are critical. Remember don’t over load powerstrips and wall outlets. Only use powerstrips with overload protection.

Appliances should be plugged directly into a wall outlet. Always insert plugs fully into sockets. DO NOT force a 3-prong plug into a two-slot outlet or remove the grounding prong.

Extension cords are meant for temporary use. Never run cords under carpets or furniture where they can get damaged or pinched.

If plugs or cords are hot to the touch, they are overloaded. This is important to remember in older homes that have wiring that was not intended for the electric demands of today’s appliances and devices.


Know how to get out and get to safety. You should know two ways out. Always keep your escape routes clear of clutter, in the event of a fire it may be dark and smoky so you don’t want to have to get around a lot of clutter. Establish a meeting place outside the building so everyone knows who has made it to safety and who may need additional assistance when rescue personnel arrive. Once you have a plan in place PRACTICE. It is recommended that you drill twice a year. On campus housing will have four drills throughout the academic year. Challenge yourself to use a different route, knowing more than one way out could save your life.

Fire Protection and Detection

No matter where you live you should have a smoke detector on every level of your residence as well as in every sleeping area. Several of UW–Madison’s dorms also have sprinkler systems in place, with plans to eventually have all dorms sprinkled. Having sprinklers in place reduces the likelihood of a fatal fire by 82% by controlling the fire and helping to reduce the rate of spread.

What is important is that these systems be respected. DO NOT hang anything off of or cover detectors or sprinkler heads. This can affect their ability to function and the work properly in the event of a fire.

If you hear a smoke alarm, or a sprinkler activates immediately evacuate, don’t ever assume it’s a false alarm. Fire grows very rapidly, and with today’s synthetic materials you may only have a matter of seconds to evacuate.

Working fire protection and detection systems can save your life.

Home & Living Considerations

Choosing where you live while going to school is almost as important as choosing your classes. If you are one of the 66% of students attending school that choose to live off campus, there are some important questions to ask and things to look for before signing a lease.

Items to consider:

  • Smoke alarms are in each sleeping area and on every level of the building
    • Who is responsible for battery replacement
  • Are there two ways out of every bedroom? Some homes may have bedrooms in the basement or attic, but this can be hazardous if there is not two ways to get out.
    • Windows can be a second way out
      • Will windows open?
      • Are they blocked?
      • Security bars?
  • Are there two ways out of the house or unit?
  • Are there fire extinguishers provided?
  • Does the electrical service provide enough outlets and is capable of providing enough power.

See the off campus safety checklists for more ideas of things to look at.