Fire prevention and safety should be a top priority for those managing single family rental properties. The U.S. Fire Administration shared that in 2015 (the most recent year for which full statistics are available), there were 380,900 residential building fires in the United States which resulted in 2,565 deaths and over seven million dollars in losses.
Following these eight simple tips can help keep tenants and single family rental properties protected from fires during the summer and throughout the year:
1. Educate tenants on proper fire procedures
Make sure tenants are informed about what do to when a fire occurs, and always have a fire extinguisher handy. Additionally, make sure they are aware that grease fires must be smothered rather than extinguished with liquid, as pouring water on a grease fire can turn explosive.
2. Teach children about fire safety
Tenants should establish fire safety rules for their children (such as restricting cooking activity when a responsible adult is not home and not playing with lighters or matches) and teach them what do to when a fire occurs. Sparky.org provides kid-friendly videos, activities and games to educate children on fire safety.
3. Check and maintain smoke detectors
Three out of five home fire deaths result from fires in properties without working smoke alarms, according to The U.S. Fire Administration. The organization recommends for alarms to be tested monthly, and for batteries to be replaced twice per year.
4. Don't leave stoves or open flames unattended
Avoid walking away from the stove, as leaving for even a minute or two can turn deadly. Additionally, do not leave cloth hot pads or kitchen towels too close to the burner. Never leave a candle or any other type of open flame unattended in any part of the home.
5. Take precautions while grilling
Irresponsible use of a grill too close to the property can quickly turn to disaster. Take care to keep any grilling flame low and controlled. Refrain from using any squirted or launched accelerant (such as lighter fluid) in a showy attempt at entertaining others.
6. Regularly inspect kitchen appliances
Periodically inspect the condition of all electrical appliances, including the microwave. Check vents for dust, pet hair and other clogs. Also inspect cords for exposed wire and while you are inspecting, make sure the outlets are not overloaded.
7. Position storage items away from potential flames
Don't store items you need to get to while cooking over the stove, as reaching across a hot stove can lead to serious burns.
8. Be aware of smoking hazards
Tenants should never smoke in the home when tired, after drinking, while medicated or when they are likely to become drowsy. While kitchen accidents are more likely to cause fires, fires started with a cigarette are more likely to result in a fatality.
Fire safety is a collaborative effort between tenant and property manager. To keep single family rental properties and precious human lives safe, care and awareness of hazard and safety protocol is essential. Get more fire safety tips from The National Fire Prevention Association, which can be downloaded and distributed to tenants.
This article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be relied on at the exclusion of seeking the advice of a qualified professional. If you have any fire safety questions, you should consult with a trained fire safety professional.