BE PREPARED

 

Be PreparedNow that you may be thousands of miles away from your family, you must now consider your on-campus and off-campus dwelling your home away from home.Whether you live with more than one person or live alone, there should always be a plan in place for if and when disaster strikes.

Things, such as  fire drills and having an exit plan, are very important safety practices.  Here are seven tips for fire safety and awareness:

  • Install a smoke/carbon monoxide alarm on every level of a building and each bedroom
  • Make sure your alarms work. Test them regularly
  • Install a new battery once a year
  • Install a new alarm at least once every 10 years
  • Portable heaters need their space. Keep it safe from other flammable objects
  • If possible install fire sprinklers, or at the very least, maintain a working fire extinguisher
  • Coordinate with other roommates and/or residents about an escape plan so everyone knows how to get out quickly and on time. Designate a specific place outside the building where everyone should meet

Besides fire, there are additional disaster safety and mitigation tips that you should keep in mind that would save your life. Create or purchase a disaster supply kit and keep near you for survival purposes after a disaster strikes.  Make sure you have a battery operated radio or electronic device that would allow you to receive official updates and critical life-saving weather information.  Use surge protection devices in your dormitory.

Lastly, develop an action plan where other residents and yourself would know where to go if an evacuation is insisted.  Review two exit routes from your dormitory to a designated meeting place. Make sure everyone in your immediate circle are present at the designated meeting spot.

For More information about being prepared for a disaster, follow DCRA on social media as we celebrate National Preparedness Month and host engaging  safety preparedness workshops and seminars.   Be Prepared 2

September is National Campus Fire Safety Month – Get Fire Safe

Welcome back to DC Students!

September is National Campus Fire Safety month with more than 28 states – and the District of Columbia – issuing proclamations to help bring awareness to unsafe conditions and activities on and off campus.

Five people died in the 2009-2010 academic year, continuing a downward trend that is good news.  All of the fatalities occurred in off-campus housing which is where over 80% of the 140 fire deaths since 2000 have occurred.

“With the tragic exceptions of 2006/2007 and 2007/2008, we are seeing a decline in the number of campus-related fire deaths,” said Ed Comeau, publisher of Campus Firewatch.  “Each fire is a tragedy, but the fact that fire deaths are dropping is welcome news.  While I can’t say for certain what is causing this drop, I have to think it is related to the increased awareness of fire safety by schools, communities, students and parents. I can’t say enough about how much everyone is working to help make their communities and campuses fire-safe.”

The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs started this blog and our outreach efforts in 2008 to bring awareness not only to fire safety issues in college housing, but also other building issues and violations that can affect the health of students.

Why should you care?

We know some of you may be hesitant to call the government to have an inspection or to report your landlord. We know this is a difficult decision. And while we highly recommend you see if your landlord has a license (put in your address and you click on licensing) and report any code violations, we have published the list of items our inspectors look for during a basic safety inspection.

You need to ask your landlord some tough questions if you see things that don’t look quite right. If you don’t get the response you were hoping for, contact us if you need help. More contact information is to the left.

We encourage EVERYONE, student or not, to use this information to learn your rights, understand the rules. Please contact us at anytime to get answers to your questions or call 202-442-9557 to schedule an inspection if you have issues with your apartment or home. And do an inspection yourself from time to time, even if your property is licensed.

Safety Outreach: One Campus at a Time

This Should Be Illegal

Yesterday, we headed over to Howard University–well, one of the sidewalks near Howard University–in order to pass out information to the students who live off-campus.  We didn’t want to cause any problems for ourselves by doing something crazy like visiting the campus without an invitation and using washable spray chalk to give students information.  Who’d do a thing like that?!

So, we visited the campus and passed out information from the public space about This Should Be Illegal to students so that they could be aware of the services that the Department of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs offers to District residents.  We hope to soon be invited again to an official campus event at Howard U so that we can reach out to even more students.

We made a beeline over to Catholic University’s campus to see if we could find a good public space area to reach out to students, but we were unable to find a good flow of foot traffic there.  So, Catholic U, we are still waiting for that invitation to come out and give your students this valuable information!

Also, not to be missed are photos from the kickoff of National Campus Fire Safety Month, which we participated in on Capitol Hill last week.  The event was well-attended and at times, quite emotional as the mother of a student killed in an off-campus fire told her story.

If your campus is having an event that you think we’d be a good fit for, feel free to contact us using one of the various methods mentioned here at This Should Be Illegal.  Have a great weekend and be safe!

DCRA at American University

American U. Wellness Fair

This past Thursday, DCRA’s “This Should Be Illegal” team packed up the van and headed to American University for a little quality time with the students there.  We took part in the university’s annual Wellness Fair and it was really nice.  The folks at AU kind of had to work a little harder than usual to justify our presence, but after we discussed it, they decided that we were a perfect fit.  There are some issues with crappy apartments or other rental housing that could in fact be a matter of life and death.  So, there you have it.

We were very happy to meet several students from AU, giving them information about our services, and we look forward to heading to your college or university next!  If you are having an event soon and you’d like for us to come out, give us a shout on Twitter @dcra or email myself shana.kemp (at) dc (dot) gov or Michael Rupert michael.rupert (at) dc (dot) gov and we’ll be more than happy to stop by!  Sometimes, students feel more comfortable making a formal complaint or getting answers to their questions through one on one interaction, instead of over the phone.

DCRA: Coming to a Campus Near You

DCRA rep at Howard University, October 2008
DCRA rep at Howard University, October 2008

At this point, across the District, school is back in session.  By now, students are all settled in to their new apartments, fresh new towels and washclothes hanging on their bathroom racks.  Plush new rugs tossed onto floors with still creased from the package sheets fitted onto mattresses– adorned by vibrant new comforters.  But, are those landlords licensed!!!?  DCRA is going to help you make sure.

Yesterday, we headed to the Georgetown University’s campus for their Resource Fair and tomorrow, we’ll be paying a visit to the University of the District of Columbia’s campus.  We’ll be passing out information and answering any questions that students may have about their rental housing or landlords.  In the coming weeks, we hope to make it, at least once, to each of the campuses here in the District because this is vital information.

If you are renting a place from an unlicensed landlord, you could be putting yourself at grave risk.  Saving your life is more important than saving a few dollars.  Remember that.  While  you are here, check out the many resources offered at thisshouldbeillegal.com and tell your friends.

The first few weeks back at school can be exciting and overwhelming at the same time.  If  you are already dealing with off-campus housing woes, check to see if it’s something that we can help you with before you lose your cool.  And, if your college or university is having an event and you’d like for us to come out and hand out information and give your students a chance to ask questions with us, face to face, contact us using one of the methods in the “Contact Us” tab on the right side of the page.

Support National Campus Fire Safety Month

NationalFireSafety2009

This is an extra special message to all colleges and universities here in the District. Many of you are getting ready for graduation and taking summer courses–maybe even working a summer job.  But, we’d like for you to take a moment to consider supporting National Campus Fire Safety Month, which will officially kick off on September 17th, shortly after many of  you return from summer break.  It runs the entire month of September.  So, start putting your plans together now, including whether you want to host any special events to educate your peers about fire safety.  The summer will have come and gone before  you know it and it’s best to at least have an idea of how you want to honor the month before you leave for break.

This will mark the fifth year of National Campus Fire Safety Month and organizers are making a big push on Capitol Hill.  They are hoping Congress will assist them in urging schools to host fire safety courses for students.  Over 80 percent of the college students who have died in fires have met their end in off-campus  housing.  Daniel Rigby, a Georgetown University student, died in a fire in off-campus housing he was renting back in 2004.  His family and friends have been honoring his life with an annual 5k run and ball for the past five years.

“The value of National Campus Fire Safety Month comes from everyone joining together, both in Washington and across the nation, to make students, parents, schools and communities aware of the importance of fire safety on our campuses,” said Ed Comeau, publisher of Campus Firewatch. 

This year’s motto for National Campus Fire Safety Month is “Fire Safety — It’s Part of Living” and it couldn’t be more appropriate.  Fire safety is a matter of life and death and DCRA wants the time spent by every student visiting the District for higher learning to be safe and enjoyable.  So, start thinking about how you want to take part in National Campus Fire Safety month and let us know what you guys are doing!  We’d love to partner with you, highlight some of the things you are doing or just support your efforts in general.  Don’t forget to take a look at the wealth of information right here at thisshouldbeillegal.com and let us know if there’s something else you think we should post.  We’d love to hear it.  We will be continuing our own crusade to educate students about fire safety.

Check out the heart-wrenching video below of the father of a Miami University student who was killed in an off-campus house fire back in 2005.  It’s a story no parent should have to tell…..

Run For Rigby, Increase Awareness

race

This weekend, take part in what is becoming a powerful, annual tradition here in the District–  the 5k Run for Rigby and Rigby Ball, started to commemorate the life of Georgetown University student Daniel Rigby.  Rigby died during a fire in a room he was renting in and off-campus house in 2004.  The Friends of Rigby Foundation was  started to honor his memory and to raise “awareness about student safety as well as donating scholarships to the needy to further Dan’s scholarly pursuits and his belief in volunteering to assist the less fortunate.”

This Saturday, the Rigby Weekend festivities will kick off to honor his life five years after that tragic fire.  Here is a snapshot of what you can expect if you want to participate: 

NON-STUDENT:  Combo Run for Rigby + Rigby Ball
Date/Time: 4/4/2009 @ 2pm & 9:30pm respectively
Location: Georgetown Red Square & Union Station Thunder Grill
Price: $85 Buy Tickets Now
Notes: Combo ticket includes both events. 

NON-STUDENT: Rigby Ball
Date/Time: 4/4/2009 @ 9:30pm-12:30am
Location: Thunder Grill @ Union Station, Washington DC
Price: $80 Buy Tickets Now

STUDENT: Combo Run for Rigby + Rigby Ball
Date/Time: 4/4/2009 @ 2pm & 9:30pm respectively
Location: Georgetown Red Square & Union Station Thunder Grill
Price: $75 Buy Tickets Now
Notes: Student tickets will require a valid ID upon check-in.

Combo ticket includes both events.

STUDENT: Rigby Ball
Date/Time: 4/4/2009 @ 9:30pm-12:30am
Location: Thunder Grill @ Union Station, Washington DC
Price: $65 –
Buy Tickets Now
Notes:

Student tickets will require a valid ID upon check-in.

Run for Rigby
Date/Time: 4/4/2009 @ 2pm
Location: Red Square – Georgetown University, Washington DC
Price: $15 –
Buy Tickets Now
Notes: 5K Race through Georgetown U. and surrounding neighborhood.

Ticket fee includes T-Shirt, Fire Safety cup, and GUGS grilled food after the Race.

If you take part in the event, email us some pictures and we’ll post them here!  This is a great cause and every year, a number of students across the country die in fires in off-campus housing. It doesn’t have to happen and raising awareness about students’ rights as renters as well as offering fire safety tips are two of the greatest ways to help prevent these tragedies.