East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service logo
East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service logo


There are practical steps you can take to improve your safety as a student. If you're moving into new accommodation, make sure you're familiar with the basics of fire and gas safety.

Living away from home for the first time can a daunting experience, especially when it comes to being responsible for cooking, heating and maintaining your new home. Living with others, often strangers at first isn’t always ideal and can leave you putting a lot of faith in your new housemates. 

We know the four main causes of accidental house fires are cooking, smoking, electrical and candle light fires. 

With the stats at their highest amongst the 18 – 30 age bracket. These incidents may not result in fatalities, but the damage can be devastating. Follow these useful tips to stay safe at university this term. 


  • never leave cooking unattended  
  • switch off the oven or hob when you have finished cooking and take pans off the heat  
  • keep electrical leads, tea towels and clothing away from the oven and hob
  • remember to clean your grill, hob and oven regularly. A build up of grease and fat can catch fire whilst cooking 


  • smoke outdoors 
  • never smoke in bed
  • stub it out properly and dispose of carefully, use ashtrays and empty the cooled contents to an outside bin regularly
  • never leave lit cigarettes or cigars unattended 


  • never leave on charge or in a USB point unattended or overnight - they can ignite and cause fire 

Electrical gadgets 

  • don’t leave electrical items on when you leave the house or overnight
  • don’t overload plug sockets, keep to one plug per socket and ensure you use the correct fuse
  • buy all electrical items, including chargers for phones and e-cigarettes, from reputable sellers
  • always use the right charger for the device


  • making sure candles are secured in a candle holder and away from material that may catch fire, like curtains or loose fitting clothes
  • don’t burn lots of candles close together, this may cause a larger flame and do not move a candle once lit
  • put candles, incense or oil burners out when you leave the room, go to bed or leave the house 
  • alternatively you could use an LED candle to create the mood without the risk

Sensible precautions

By taking a few sensible precautions, you can help protect yourself from injury - or worse:

  • ensure a smoke alarm is installed on every level of your home - and test it weekly
  • never smoke in bed
  • when you finish a cigarette, put it out completely - and make sure all cigarette ends are cold before emptying ashtrays into bins
  • check your furniture has the fire-resistant permanent label
  • be aware of where fire alarms are located and fire equipment is kept
  • plan and practice an escape route with your housemates
  • keep a torch handy to help guide you through smoke

Beware of late night chips! 

One in four injuries from house fires are started by late night cooking and usually occurs between 10.00 pm. and 4.00 am.
For more information on cooking safety tips, click here

If you live in halls of residence

All universities and colleges have a person responsible for fire safety.

If you have any concerns or questions about fire safety in halls - for example, you've spotted a fire risk - speak to them.

If you are a disabled student and would need assistance if there was a fire, let the university or college health and safety officer know when you arrive.

You should also:

  • check what the fire safety rules are - such as any ban on candles in rooms
  • pay attention to fire drills and never ignore alarms

Privately rented accommodation 

If you live in a private house or flat, make sure it's fitted with smoke alarms on each level of the property - and that they are tested regularly.

Check that your escape route is clear. For example, make sure there are no bikes blocking your exit in the hallway, and be aware of any windows that are barred

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Latest update : 22 October 2020
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