CHARLESTON, Ill. (WAND) - September is Campus Fire Safety Month in Illinois.
The Illinois State Fire Marshal's Office reported September and October are the most common months for student housing fires. The State of Illinois is urging students to create and practice a fire escape plan.
"This month serves as a good reminder for schools, universities, colleges and local municipalities to join together and evaluate the level of fire safety being provided in both on and off-campus student housing," said Illinois State Fire Marshal Matt Perez.
The goal of Campus Fire Safety Month is to help prevent common campus fires and reduced fire hazards. Charleston Fire Chief Steve Bennett said they've never experienced a major campus fire.
"Common alarm we get is obviously burnt food, like burnt popcorn. We've seen people leave curling irons on beds and burn comforters," Bennett said.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, fires in student housing cause an average of one death, 32 injuries, and $15 million in property damage each year. Perez said this is an opportunity to remind and refresh students about fire safety protocols.
"Its the point of raising awareness," Perez said. "It's the first time they've (students) lived away from home or on their own. If the smoke alarm goes off, dad is not there and mom is not there to give direction."
Eastern Illinois University and Charleston firefighters work closely together to ensure student safety. Bennett told WAND News they teach residential assistants how to use fire extinguishers.
They also create an evacuation program where RA's go through a drill where a dorm is filled with smoke and the fire alarm is activated. In addition, during a tailgate, the Charleston Fire Department will simulate the importance of sprinklers in the dorm rooms and how quickly they can extinguish a fire.