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Beware of Electrical Dangers in Dorm Rooms

Learn Electrical Safety 101

Springfield, Ill., Aug. 23, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Millions of college students have survived move-in day on campuses across the country. While this is an exciting time for undergrads everywhere, it can be a nerve-racking time for parents. Safe Electricity reminds parents and students to keep electrical safety in mind.

When planning to move into a shared space like a dorm or university housing, Bob Wilczynski, assistant director of housing at the University of Illinois, has a few insights. Watch the number of appliances and electronics used per room or apartment. “Oftentimes rooms end up with multiple refrigerators and microwaves, which can lead to a circuit overload in a small space.”

Wilczynski adds that you should check with your university’s housing department on their specific housing regulations. Many colleges across the U.S. ban cooking appliances from on-campus housing, including hot plates, coffee makers and microwaves. Many of these institutions provide a designated area for the use of these products.

Safe Electricity recommends students follow these tips:

  • Don’t overload outlets, extension cords, or power strips.
  • Use power strips with over-current protectors. This will shut off the power if there is too much being drawn.
  • Only purchase and use electrical products tested for safety. Some common approved safety labels include UL, CSA, and MET.
  • Keep all electrical appliances and cords safely away from bedding, curtains, paper, and other flammable materials.
  • Make sure outlets around sinks are equipped with ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) before use. If they are not, contact the resident assistant, camping housing staff, or landlord.
  • Unplug small appliances when not in use and all electronics when away for extended periods.
  • Always use microwave-safe containers. Glass, ceramic containers, and plastics labeled “microwave-safe” can be safely used. Never use metal or aluminum foil, which can damage the microwave or start a fire. Do not use a microwave that’s been damaged in any way.
  • Never disable a smoke detector and never ignore a fire alarm or assume it is a drill. Every time a fire alarm sounds, residents should calmly and quickly follow practiced procedures and immediately exit the building.

For more information on dorm safety, visit SafeElectricity.org.

CONTACT: Ann Augspurger
Energy Education Council - Safe Electricity