Winter is the perfect time to get warm and cozy at home, tucked away from the rain and cold with a heater, electric blanket, and maybe a few candles. But all the warm comforts of winter have one unfortunate thing in common. Our favorite ways of staying toasty in the cold can also create serious fire risks. December and January are the peak months for house fires, and the risks are only increasing. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that house fires have gone up by eight percent since 2000.
As winter approaches and we all crank up our thermostats, it’s time to start thinking about how to make your home fire safe. Luckily, you and your tenants don’t need to face the risks unprepared. A few guidelines and easy changes can drastically reduce the danger of a fire in your rental.
Top Ways To Keep Your Rental Fire-Safe
The top two most common (and dangerous) sources of fire danger are cooking and heating. Both of these activities are more common in the winter, as people prepare warm meals and batches of Christmas cookies with the heater on day and night. To help head off these two serious risks, here’s a checklist of factors to review this fall.
The first step towards making your rental fire-safe is crucial yet straightforward. Make sure your rental has an adequate number of well-maintained smoke detectors. Ensure all of the smoke detectors in your rental have fresh batteries and are working correctly. This will be the first line of defense if a fire should break out indoors.
Space heaters account for 44 percent of heating fires and a large number of deaths. Because they pose such a risk, many landlords preemptively ban their use on their rental properties. However, you should also make sure you’re not leaving your tenants out in the cold! If your tenants want to bring more heating appliances into the house, you might want to consider whether you need to add some additional safe heating systems to your rental for their comfort and safety. If your tenants decide they need a space heater, the consequences can be destructive or even deadly. It’s best to ensure your rental unit is warm enough on its own.
Appliances and Vents
Now is a great time to make sure that all your rental’s appliances are in good working order. You’ll want to ensure that your dryer’s vent is clear, your kitchen’s fan isn’t crusted with grease, and the chimney, if applicable, is thoroughly cleaned. Your tenants will appreciate not needing to worry about a malfunction in the dead of winter. Not to mention feeling safer when they turn on the stove fan!
In some cases, you may need to install a certain number of fire extinguishers on the premises. The NFPA requires that all buildings other than family homes, duplexes, and manufactured homes have a fire extinguisher on the premises. Portland’s laws include more guidelines for landlords. Whether or not you’re required to keep a fire extinguisher on your rental’s premises, it certainly isn’t a bad idea. Providing your tenants with a fire extinguisher in the kitchen could make the difference between a burnt pan of bacon and thousands of dollars of fire damage.
Help Your Tenants Stay Safe Too
As the landlord, you can take many steps to keep your rental fire-safe this winter. But without living on the property yourself, there’s only so much you can do. Some of the essential parts of maintaining fire safety start with the people using the heaters, cooking the food, and cleaning out their dryer filters. This can be a great opportunity for you to get in touch with your tenants and help make sure they’re staying safe this winter season. Here are a few tips you can discuss with your renters as the colder months roll in:
Emphasize Kitchen Safety
Because cooking is the number one culprit of house fires, the best protection begins before the fire has even started. Encourage your tenants to keep any flammable objects like towels or paper products a safe distance from the stove. Unattended cooking is a huge danger as well. That’s why your renters should take care not to leave a burner on if they’re not in the room. Setting a timer is a great way to avoid forgetting about that roast in the oven and dealing with the burnt (or flaming) result.
Plan on Safe Exits
Keeping the apartment clear of obstructions can mean the difference between life and death during a fire. Encouraging your tenants to keep an open route to all exits unobstructed by furniture or other obstacles is vital in a quick evacuation.
Keep an Open Dialogue
It pays to let your tenants know that they can come to you with any questions or concerns about their rental’s heating or fire safety. By working together, you can both help make sure that everyone stays safe and warm this winter.
Safety is Our Number One Concern
Rent Portland Homes by Darla Andrew knows that protecting your home from fire isn’t just seasonal. We’re dedicated to helping our owners and tenants keep their homes and investments safe and in top condition year-round. If you own a rental in the Portland metro area and could use a helping hand this fall, we’d love to pitch in. Our maintenance team will make sure that all your appliances and vents are in good order, as well as attending to any of your tenants’ repair needs within 48 hours or less. We also handle all tenant communications, so we can stay connected with your renters and keep an open channel about best fire safety practices this winter.
We know it’s a lot of work trying to stay on top of all the year-round upkeep that any rental property requires. The knowledge that falling behind on your maintenance can put your property and tenants at risk only makes the situation more stressful. If you’d like the security of knowing your property is being kept in top shape by a dedicated team of professionals, we’d love to talk to you about all we can offer. Give us a call or text at (503) 515-3170, or fill out the contact form on our website any time.