FILE - University of Illinois

Altgeld Hall on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign.

With students returning to campus throughout Illinois, state officials are reminding everyone to remember fire safety basics.

Illinois Gov J.B. Pritzker has proclaimed September “Campus Fire Safety Month.” And The Illinois Fire Marshal has asked college students and their parents to take fire safety seriously.

Students should remember to check to smoke detectors in their house or apartment at least once a month, State Fire Marshal spokesman J.C. Fultz said. He students should make sure to change out the batteries in smoke detectors at least once every six months – just like their parents would do at home.

Having more than one way out is also important. Fultz said every off-campus house or apartment should have at least three exits that could be used in the event of a fire.

For many college students, when they move to campus, it’s their first time on their own away from home.

Fultz also had tips for students living on campus. He said overloaded electrical outlets can be dangerous.

“Never use an extension cord as a permanent plug-in. Always make sure you plug directly into the wall,” Fultz said.

University of Illinois Associate Director of Code Compliance and Fire Safety Craig Grant said campus fire safety is an important issue for students living both on-campus and off-campus.

After a fire at Seton Hall University in New Jersey in 2000 that killed three students, Grant said Illinois lawmakers passed a law to improve fire safety on college campuses statewide. The law required all campus residence halls to be protected by fire sprinkler systems.

Grant said that while there are policies and procedures in place for on-campus living, off-campus fire safety is just as important.

“Those areas have been the site of multiple serious fires over the years,” Grant said.

According to Campus Firewatch, 85 percent of college fire-related fatalities happen in off-campus housing.

This is the fourteenth year that Illinois has participated in the nationwide Campus Fire Safety Month campaign.

Staff Writer

A Chicago area radio news veteran, Jim Moran covers statewide issues for The Center Square. Previously, he has worked as a news reporter/anchor and traffic reporter for numerous radio stations across Illinois and the St. Louis metro area.