In San Jose, CA in late June, a five-alarm fire roared through a college fraternity house. One student said he awoke around 3 a.m. to screams and chaos: “I heard people screaming that there was smoke in the house and to get out,” he said. “Everyone was screaming–we went to all the rooms, knocking on doors” before getting out of the house.
Another student had just bought new furniture in anticipation of spending his summer at the house. His room, along with others on the second floor of the house, was destroyed in the fire. In fact, the blaze displaced 28 people and caused an estimated $1.7 million in damage, but everyone who lived there did emerge safely because of the shouts and warnings from other occupants.
The American Red Cross was called to the scene to assist the 28 people who were displaced. San Jose State University set up a relief fund for the displaced students and those interested in donating to the fund can do so at www.sjsu.edu/advancement/giving.
The fraternity house, owned by university alumni, might have caught fire because of a situation in the laundry room–it could have been an electrical wire or a fuse-box problem, or even something as simple as the lint trap in the clothes dryer becoming too full and then overheating. Full lint traps are common causes of house fires.
The lesson from this story is that even when kids are properly taught fire safety at home, once they go to college or into an apartment of their own, there are outside factors that they have to think about when it comes to staying safe from fire, severe burns, and smoke inhalation. Fortunately, the kids in this fraternity house knew to go around to all the rooms and yell and bang on doors while it was still safe to do so. Then, as the fire got bigger, they knew where the exits were. This are two things all kids should be taught by their parents.
Kids need to know that a lot of things are out of your control once you go out into the world, and you have to plan ahead with things like fire safety so that you do the right things if a fire or other safety emergency ever comes up.