As we officially head into the holiday season with Thanksgiving this week, a lot of people will begin decorating their homes for Christmas. I thought it was a perfect time to talk about how property owners can keep their property and their tenants safe.
Approximately 13,000 people go to the emergency room every year in November and December because of holiday decorations.
Property owners are always concerned about safety issues in their investment property. However there is no better time than during the holidays, to remind your tenants of some basic steps they can take to keep themselves and the property they live in safe. Those lights and holiday decorations present many “opportunities” for landlords to encounter additional liability. If you have a newsletter that you send to your tenants, this is a perfect topic to include. If you don’t have a newsletter, then go ahead and mail out a “Happy Holidays” flier to each tenant reminding them that taking a few extra precautions can enhance their safety this year.
Indoor Christmas Lights
We all know that indoor Christmas lights should be replaced at least every 3-4 years for safety however most of us tend to keep them a lot longer than that. Those lights have tiny wires can be easily damaged from normal use. Before you put any lights on the tree, they should be inspected for broken and cracked sockets, frayed, bare or damaged wires and loose connections. One safety rule you should always follow, is never use more than 3 strings of lights per extension cord as this presents a definite fire hazard.
Christmas lights are relatively inexpensive so go ahead and change them out every few years for fire safety reasons. Be sure to remind your tenants to always turn off the Christmas lights when they leave.
Exterior Christmas Lights
Everyone loves Christmas lights. However tenants that decorate their homes with exterior lights can expose their landlord to some serious liability. Generally people that put up exterior lights, just check to see if they are working. They rarely replace them otherwise.
There are many people that are injured from roof falls and shocks every year when they get up on the roof to decorate. Just walking on the roof in very cold conditions can damage the shingles on the roof. As the landlord, any liability or roof repairs will land squarely on your shoulders.
Tenants should be reminded that when using exterior Christmas lights, that the lights and any extension cords must be certified for exterior use, and they need to be plugged into GFCI protected outlets.
Chimneys and Fireplaces
If you have a property with a wood burning fireplace, as the landlord you should be sure to have the flue cleaned annually. Creosote occurs naturally from burning wood. When it gets to be a quarter inch thick or thicker inside the chimney, it’s a fire hazard as it can ignite and cause a chimney fire.
Be sure to caution your tenants not to throw wrapping paper in the fireplace. Those materials tend to get very hot as they burn and they can cause flash fires.
Everyone loves candles, but they pose a serious fire risk if they are not handled properly. Most fires started by candles are a result of them being forgotten or being placed too close to something that is flammable. Most all fires started by candles could be prevented just by using a little caution.
Facts and Figures
- The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has some sobering statistics I would like to pass onto everyone that has rental property.
- Christmas trees are responsible for 300 fires annually which result in 30 injuries, 10 deaths and $10,000,000 in property damage.
- Candles start about 11,600 fires annually which result in 1200 injuries, 130 deaths and $173,000,000 in property loss.
- There are 13,000 injuries every year from roof falls and shocks associated with the installation of exterior Christmas Lights.
You don’t want to get a call telling you that someone has been injured on your property or that the house has sustained serious damage from a fire. This busy holiday season; take a little time to give your tenants a quick reminder of these simple but important safety tips.
Take just a minute and watch this short video to see just how quickly disaster can happen.
[evp type=youtube width=440 height=280]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VyxIegueukM&list=PLE90E9F8820590DDB&index=21&feature=plcp[/evp]
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