At a time of year when more fires, candles, and space heaters are being burned for warmth and celebration, property owners need to be cognizant of the inherent risks of indoor heating. The National Fire Prevention Association’s data show that around 98,000 apartment fires were reported in 2013, killing at least 325 people and injuring 3,900. And 27% of fires in residential properties were caused by fireplaces and heaters.
Therefore, winter, especially from December to February, is the best time to focus on fire prevention practices and education so you can eliminate as many risks as possible. Here are some of the best tips for doing so:
Send Information to Tenants
Create newsletters with prevention information for sending by mail to your tenants. You can also post the newsletter on any community bulletin boards or slip them under tenants’ doors. At the minimum, mention the most common areas of fire risk in homes, such as heating, candles, fireworks, microwaves, smoking, and grilling/cookouts. For downloadable posters and fliers, you can check out the National Fire Prevention Association’s website.
Get an Inspection
Most local fire marshals or fire departments will do a courtesy inspection of your property, so give them a call. They can usually walk through your property with you and identify any areas with potential hazards, such as facilities, common areas, and storage areas. This will help you be aware of wiring or electrical problems, issues with trash or landscaping, or storage of hazardous materials that could lead to the spread of fire.
Check for Renters Insurance
Protect yourself and our tenants by ensuring that they are carrying the proper insurance in the case of a disaster. Even a small fire could add up to costs more than what could be covered by the renter.
Check Common Risk Areas
Other important places to inspect include:
- Laundry rooms: Check your hoses for lint buildup and look behind your dryer for any clothes that have piled up. These can be potential hazards.
- Fire extinguishers, to make sure they are charged.
- HVAC units and/or furnaces to be sure they are fully serviced.
- Sprinklers, smoke detectors, and monitors for carbon monoxide and to be sure they are working properly.
You’ll also want to make sure tenants know to alert you or your property management company any time there is a breaker trip on your property. This can make you aware of any problems with wiring.