Everyone's been in a situation where the fire alarms goes off for no apparent reason. While standing outside in all kinds of weather and waiting for the fire trucks to respond and for the alarm to be reset is an amusement to some, it ends up annoying for all if it's repeated several times. In college dorms, false fire alarms seem to be a particular problem, and the unfortunate danger is that too many false fire alarms, just as with the boy who cried wolf, leads to people ignoring warning when the danger is real. Following a few guidelines can help prevent these false fire alarms, as well as increase the safety of your college student.
Be Careful When Cooking
It seems pretty simple, but cooking problems are a big cause of fire alarms on some campuses. To prevent false fire alarms from cooking, be sure to follow your dorm's rules with regard to things such as hot plates. If a hot plate isn't allowed in a dorm room, don't bring it to school with you. If you do have a dorm with a stove, be sure to watch your food closely when cooking. Dorm life can hold a lot of distractions, from studying to socializing, but unlike at home, if you set off one fire alarm, you'll set it off for your entire dorm building.
Most fire alarms at college campuses are sensitive to the amounts of particles in the air, so try to avoid heavy use of aerosol air fresheners, spray paint, and other items that can send little particles in the air. The basic rule for this is if it comes in a can and it smells strong, you probably shouldn't be using it in the dorm. If you must use it for some reason, be sparing and open a window for ventilation, and make sure not to do it close to a smoke detector, so all the stuff in the air has time to dissipate.
Watch the Pullbox
Most dorms will have small pull boxes in each hallway, so someone who sees a fire can start the alarms if the detectors aren't working. These items are convenient, but don't roughhouse or socialize near them. All it takes is a little slipping while leaning against the wall by one for your bag or elbow to push down on it, and then not only will you be inconvenienced, but you could get in trouble for starting the false alarm. College dorms are great for socializing with others, but it's best done in your dorm room or in common areas, not in the hallway.
If you do hear an alarm that you think is false, make sure to go outside anyways. Just because most of the time nothing happens when you hear the alarm, all it takes is one real fire to cause injury or death. But if you're careful and avoid false fire alarms, your time outside while waiting for the fire trucks will be minimized. To help minimize the annoyance from false fire alarms, have a plan ready so you can leave your dorm quickly and stay warm, including keeping your jacket by the door, so even if the false fire alarms happen mostly at night, you'll be comfortable, even if a little annoyed. Remember, any alarm could be a real alarm, so follow the rules and you shouldn't ever get hurt.