The Daily Illini

Editorial: A lesson in emergency preparedness

By The Daily Illini Editorial Board

This week is Fire Prevention Week nationwide, but students should be aware of things they can do year-round to prevent emergencies, including fires.

Most likely, at any given moment we are not prepared for an emergency to occur. But the most intimidating part about dangerous situations is their spontaneity, and because of that, it is crucial to be prepared.

The National Fire Protection Association recommends that each bedroom in a house or apartment have a smoke alarm outside each sleeping area and on each level of a house.

NFPA also recommends that smoke alarms be tested once a month. This is especially important given that three out of five fire deaths occur in places that lack working smoke alarms. (http://www.nfpa.org/safety-information/for-consumers/fire-and-safety-equipment/smoke-alarms )JT

In addition to making sure that smoke alarms are functional, there are a lot of other things students can do to prevent emergencies.

Students in residence halls should check the rules of the dorms before using electrical appliances in their dorm room. Appliances with heating elements, like hotplates or coffee makers, can cause fires if something is left near the source of heat.

Additionally, students on and off campus should be careful with space heaters as the weather becomes colder — the NFPA recommends keeping items that can burn at least three feet away from fireplaces and space heaters. Students should also turn off space heaters before going to bed. (information found in PDFs here http://www.nfpa.org/safety-information/safety-tip-sheets )JT

Some of this seems like common sense — don’t leave the kitchen while you’re cooking, don’t pour water on a grease fire, don’t leave candles unattended — but these reminders bear repeating.

Emergencies on campus aren’t just limited to fires. Sometimes, situations arise where CPR is necessary. However, according to the American Heart Association, (http://cpr.heart.org/AHAECC/CPRAndECC/AboutCPRFirstAid/CPRFactsAndStats/UCM_475748_CPR-Facts-and-Stats.jsp)JT 70 percent of Americans feel helpless during a cardiac emergency where CPR is needed, either because they don’t know how to administer CPR or are out-of-practice.

However, even those who are untrained in CPR can help in an emergency. If students see someone who is unresponsive and not breathing or not breathing normally, the American Heart Association recommends calling 911, then pushing hard and fast on the center of their chest.

Administering CPR to a cardiac arrest victim can double or triple their chances of survival. Students can watch an instructional video on how to administer Hands-Only CPR on the American Heart Association’s website.

Unfortunately, emergencies can arise even when people are intoxicated, and students should be prepared to handle them when they do. In terms of fire prevention, students should avoid cooking when intoxicated.

Students should also watch friends for signs of alcohol poisoning — vomiting, skin that is cold and pale, unconsciousness — and should call 911 if they exhibit any of those symptoms. Underage students who have been drinking can call for medical help for friends without fearing legal trouble due to policies set forth by the University’s conflict resolution office.(http://www.conflictresolution.illinois.edu/goodsamaritan.asp)JT

Emergencies happen, and when they do, it would be terrible if the reason tragedy came from it was because a student was unprepared. We should collectively take necessary steps now to ensure that we’re ready in case something threatening were to occur, so at the very least, we can always say we tried.

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