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Stop: Before you leave for winter break, heed these safety tips

Thousands of students, faculty, and staff will soon leave campus for winter break. Here are some tips for securing your room or office before you depart for the holidays, with insight from Northeastern’s Office of Housing and Residential Life and NUPD’s fire safety unit.

Enjoy roasted chestnuts, but without the open fire

Northeastern fire safety regulations prohibit the display of decorations in elevators, stairwells, hallways, and other common areas.

Lit candles, natural trees, wreaths, or other decorations made from combustible organic materials—including laurel, holly, and straw—are prohibited from all university buildings due to fire concerns.

Don’t hang a shining star upon the highest bough

Indoor/outdoor string lights, like the kind you’d hang on your house, are prohibited in university residence halls. Paper decorations and neon signs are also prohibited.

Open your hearts, close your windows

Don’t leave campus without first ensuring that all your windows are tightly closed. “In addition to security concerns,” said Peter Rizzi, fire safety supervisor, “windows left even partially open may cause frozen or burst fire sprinkler lines.”


Turn off your computer, not your holiday spirit

Turn off—and unplug—laptops and other devices with lithium batteries. “Turning off computers and other electronic devices saves energy and potentially protects data,” Rizzi said. “Lithium batteries are notorious for spontaneously catching fire, especially during charging and occasionally during normal use.”

Don’t sweep it under the rug

If you use extension cords, keep them in plain view. Don’t bury them under your rug. “Running cords under rugs exposes them to physical damage that may result in a short circuit leading to fire,” Rizzi explained. “In addition, electrical cords generate heat when under loads. The rugs trap that heat and can ignite the carpeting in extreme cases.”

There’s no place like home for the holidays

But before you go, make sure to secure your residence hall room. The Office of Housing and Residential Life advises you to clean your room; remove trash and perishable food; and close your windows. Be sure to disconnect all plugs except that of your refrigerator; turn off all lights; take any valuables with you; and leave the heat on low to avoid frozen pipes. Finally, follow any checkout procedure given to you by your building staff.


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