Each year, approximately 2,650 people are killed by fires in their homes, making fire the third most common cause of accidental deaths at home. During the holiday season when there is an ample amount of cooking take place, decorative lights adorning homes, candles burning bright and an abundance of guests galore, it is crucial to ensure that your home within your New York City condominium or cooperative is fire-proof.
In many instances, fires in the home are easily preventable as long as you are adequately prepared for the danger. By now you know that having a fire extinguisher on hand in the kitchen, and making sure you have functional smoke detectors throughout your apartment, are critical for protecting your biggest investment. In addition to keeping those smoke detector batteries charged, there are more important actions you can take to lower the risk of a fire.
We’ll give you a few tips to help you implement your own fire plan, and educate you on what you need to do to keep a fire from spreading in your apartment.
A Fire-Safe Thanksgiving – Something to Be Thankful For
We’ve all seen videos of kitchen fires and turkey fryer infernos each Thanksgiving – those long cooking hours and plenty of distractions can be a recipe for disaster. Since there may be children and pets around, be sure to keep them away from hot foods, appliances and surfaces, as well as any matches or utility lighters that may be in use. Exercise caution with appliances like electric knives, coffee pots or plate warmers – never leave them unattended and unplug them as soon as you leave the room. And while decorative tapers or candles enhance a room’s ambiance, never leave them unattended on the dinner table – or for that matter, anywhere in your home.
Merry and Safe Winter Holidays
If you’re purchasing new holiday decorations or reusing those from last year, check first for damage and make sure they’re flame resistant or flame retardant. If you’re planning to put up a natural tree, place it at least three feet away from any heat source, without blocking any exits. As for decorations, use lights that have been lab-tested (never candles!) and replace any strings that appear worn or have loose bulb connectors. And remember, always turn off your tree lights before you leave the house or go to bed.
Unplug Unused Appliances
Keeping unused appliances unplugged will reduce your risk for an electrical short or a surge due to a lighting strike. Pay special attention to items like space heaters, hot plates, coffee makers and curling irons. These appliances can start a fire if their heating elements come into contact with something flammable. Create a habit of unplugging them when you're done using them.
Keep Your Dryer Vent Clear
Whether you have communal laundry facilities in your building or in-unit washers and dryers, one thing you must be wary of is the cleanliness of your dryer vent. Make sure to empty the dryer’s lint trap every time you use it. If in a communal space, make sure your building has a routine where the dryer vents are cleaned each time the building’s furnace and ductwork are serviced. (Many HVAC contractors will do this for low or no additional cost if you just ask!)
Annual Furnace Maintenance
The ductwork (exhaust pipes and chimneys) connected to your building’s furnace is an important item which requires regular maintenance. Regular cleaning clears your ductwork of flammable debris. A well-tuned furnace is much less likely to cause a fire.
Clean Your Chimneys
Whether it is in your building’s chimney or a chimney within your own unit, Creosote, which is highly flammable, can build up over time. One spark can start a chimney fire that will spread throughout the rest of your property. If you have a chimney, make sure it is cleaned annually by professionals to reduce this risk.
Clean Your Gutters
Dry leaves stuck in your building’s gutters can easily be ignited by a stray spark from things like neighboring grills. Be sure your building is regularly cleaning the property’s gutters to minimize this risk.
By following these tips and creating some smart new habits, you can stop many of the common causes of house fires before they ever have a chance to get started.
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