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Winter fire safety tips for your condo and co-op

Winter holidays are filled with good food, friends, and family. As we all gather indoors for all the festivities and hibernation, preventing fires in your condo or co-op requires attention and effort from everyone in your building. 

As a board member of your condo/co-op, help make the winter season merry, cozy, and bright by sharing the following safety tips and tricks with all your residents.

Holiday cooking

Food has got to be the best part of every holiday! But with great home-cooked meals comes great cooking responsibility. It’s no wonder cooking fires skyrocket during Thanksgiving and the holiday season. 

When preparing this year’s extravagant holiday feasts, be sure to follow these kitchen tips: 

  • Test smoke alarms before these big holidays to ensure they’re ready for whatever happens.
  • Don’t leave the bird or beast unattended. Stay in the kitchen when cooking so you can always keep an eye on things. 
  • Kids can be amazing little helpers, but not so much in the kitchen. On these hectic cooking days, keep children away from hot appliances and dangerous cooking equipment.
  • You don’t need more holiday hurdles to (literally) jump over. Keep your kitchen floor clean and clear.
  • Avoid wearing loose clothing that can easily catch fire. 

Holiday decorations

More than two out of every five decoration fires happen because decorations are placed too close to something hot. As we all start breaking out our favorite holiday decor:

  • Make sure all house rules on decorations are clear and accessible.
  • Don’t cut corners. Ensure any holiday decorative lights, string lights, and associated wiring are hung safely and in accordance with any codes. 
  • Always turn off lights and decorations before leaving home or calling it a night. 

Christmas trees

Christmas trees can really bring the holidays to life. But, if you’re not careful, they can make a small home fire can turn into a seriously big problem. If you’re planning to decorate a real tree in your home, remember:

  • Fresher is always better. Choose a tree with green needles that do not come off easily. 
  • Forest and fire don’t mix. Keep your tree is at least three feet away from any heat source in your home. 
  • A fresh tree can drink a gallon of water per day, so water daily. 
  • String lights are not all made the same. Confirm yours are listed by a qualified testing laboratory (never use candles), are for indoor or outdoor use, and do not have worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. 
  • Always turn off tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.
  • It’s always sad when the holidays are over, but try not to cope by leaving your tree up in your home for too long. Check with your local community to find a recycling program.

Candles

They’re beautiful, smell amazing, and are an important part of many religious and spiritual rituals. But such a little flame can create very dangerous scenarios if you don’t “candle” them with care. When lighting candles in your home, be sure to: 

  • Use candle holders that are sturdy and don’t tip over easily.
  • Place candles at least 4 feet away from curtains, draperies, decorations, blinds, and bedding. 
  • Always remember to blow them out before you leave a room or hit the hay.
  • Never burn a candle all the way down.
  • Consider flameless candles - they look and smell like the real thing!

Heating + fireplaces 

There’s nothing quite like curling up in front of a fireplace on a cold, snowy day. Be sure your preferred heating equipment is prepped for the winter. 

  • Experts are experts for a reason. Have a qualified professional install any stationary heating equipment, water heaters, or central heating equipment according to code. Additionally, be sure to get your chimney cleaned and inspected every year before using. 
  • A sturdy fireplace screen will keep all embers and sparks from escaping into your home. 
  • Save your wrapping paper for presents, not fireplaces.
  • Keep anything that burns at least three feet away from any heating devices. 
  • Before leaving any room or falling asleep, be sure your fireplace fire is out and turn off all heaters.

E-bikes + e-scooters

E-bikes and e-scooters have many upsides - they’re compact, stylish, and perfect for zipping around town. But, their Lithium-ion batteries can pose serious danger when handled incorrectly (most recently seen in a midtown high-rise).

In a city that notoriously lacks space, people are forced to store and recharge their electronic devices in their apartments, especially during the winter months. If you’ve got yourself an e-bike or e-scooter, remember:

  • Brand name matters. You should only purchase and use devices, batteries, and chargers that are listed by nationally recognized testing labs. 
  • Don’t mix and match. Only use the battery and charger that came with the device. 
  • Be alert. Look out for batteries with unusual odors, changes in color or shape, overheating, leaking, smoking, and not keeping a charge.
  • Never leave the device unattended while charging and always disconnect once it’s fully charged. 
  • Keep batteries at room temperature and in a fireproof container whenever possible.
  • Dispose of batteries with care. It’s illegal to throw away old batteries in your household trash here in New York. Contact the manufacturer or find a company like Call2Recycle or your local Home Depot to safely recycle.

Have additional questions on fire safety in your condo or co-op? Daisy, the first property management with intelligent infrastructure that combines data, automation and hospitality to help you live your best building life, is always happy to help. Feel free to reach out by visiting our website. Stay warm, stay safe and enjoy the holidays!