SAFETY REMINDERS FOR STUDENTS LIVING OFF GROUNDS
As you return to Charlottesville for the new academic year, you can take a few easy steps to protect yourself and your roommates from the dangers posed by fire, carbon monoxide poisoning, and crime.
- Smoke Detectors: Make sure that smoke detectors are located on all floors and in key areas of your apartment or house (such as the kitchen and hallways outside sleeping areas). Install fresh batteries or test any hard-wired smoke detectors to make sure they are functioning properly. Smoke detectors can be purchased at most local hardware or household stores.
- Carbon Monoxide: Carbon monoxide (CO) is a particularly serious threat in any residence that uses a gas hot water heater, a gas or wood burning stove, or any other fuel-burning heater or appliance. Because CO is an odorless gas, it is critical that you have a CO detector installed in key points in your off-Grounds home or apartment, especially near sleeping areas. Contact your landlord if your apartment or home has a CO risk (in other words, if it has anything other than electric heat, hot water heaters, and appliances) and no CO detectors are present. New CO detectors can be purchased at the U.Va. Bookstore and at most local hardware and household stores. (Note that all on-Grounds U.Va. residence halls with fuel-burning hot water heaters or heating systems have CO detectors installed and are regularly inspected.)
- Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: Symptoms of CO poisoning include headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea, sleepiness, and dizziness. To avoid CO risk, make certain to have any fuel-burning heater, water heater, or other appliance serviced regularly to detect leaks; make certain that all such appliances and any fireplaces are properly ventilated; never use any portable fuel-burning camping equipment (such as stoves) indoors; never operate a fuel-burning generator indoors; and turn off any gas powered engine (such as a car or motorcycle) once inside a garage.
- Courtesy Inspections: U.Va.’s Office of Environmental Health and Safety can arrange for a courtesy fire and CO safety inspection of your off-Grounds apartment or house upon request. Please contact them at 434-982-4911 to schedule a visit. You may also contact U.Va.’s off-Grounds housing staff in the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life at 434-243-8924 for referral to resources on how to improve the safety of your living space and avoid the danger of fire or CO poisoning.
- General Safety: You can reduce your risk of being a victim of crime by making sure that your apartment or house has good external lighting (especially at entrance points) and does not have overgrown shrubs or trees that obscure walkways or doorways. You should check all door and window locks to ensure that they are working properly (and be sure to use them). Contact your landlord to make any needed repairs to locks and lighting and to trim any overgrown vegetation. If you see anything that seems suspicious, trust your instincts and call the police at 911.