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Dorm Room Electrical Safety

Photo of a curling iron, blow dryer, and a cell phone plugged into a power strip.
Consider purchasing power strips with an over-current protector.

Today’s college student uses many electronics for school, work, and play. When used improperly, these helpful gadgets can become electric hazards. If you or a loved one is heading off to college, Safe Electricity has the following tips to prevent electric accidents and fires.

  • Extension cords are only for temporary use. Dorm rooms may not have enough outlets to plug in all your gadgets at once. If you must use extension cords, use them temporarily and unplug them when not in use.

  • Consider purchasing power strips with an over-current protector, which will shut off power automatically if there is too much current being drawn.

  • Use light bulbs with the correct wattage for lamps; if no indication is on the fixture, do not use a bulb with more than 60 watts.

  • Never tack or nail an electrical cord to any surface or run cords across traffic paths or under rugs or furniture.

  • Keep all electrical appliances and cords safely away from bedding, curtains, and other flammable material.

  • Discard or repair damaged electronics. It may be tempting to use an electronic with a frayed cord or damaged plug-in to save money. However, damaged electronics should not be used, since they can shock or electrocute students.

  • If your lights flicker, electronics shut off, or circuits trip—notify campus staff.

  • Use only laboratory-certified appliances and electronics.

  • Watch out for overheated outlets. If an electrical outlet becomes so hot you cannot leave your hand on it, there is potential for a fire.  Unplug everything from the outlet and notify the landlord or dorm officials immediately.

College students should also know what to do if there is a fire, including escape and meeting plans.

There are more than 3,500 fires on college campuses every year. Help prevent fires by understanding electrical safety and sharing what you know with loved ones.

For this and more great electrical safety information, please visit


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