Don’t Play With Fire — Some Sage Advice for First Time Renters
When I first moved into my current apartment, my landlord gave me a few warnings: change the air filter every three months, be mindful of what’s going down the garbage disposal, and don’t grill out too close to the building. That last one seemed out of the blue until he shared that one of his other properties had caught fire due to that exact mistake.
Fire is great — essential even — and it’s loved in all forms. Gas stoves are great for cooking, candles add ambiance, incense are useful in the restroom, and heaters offer extra coziness come wintertime. But, with anything so good comes a caveat.
Always use caution. Just remember what you learned at Safety Town, or whatever fire safety class you were exposed to as a child, and practice these procedures on move-in day or before leaving your home:
Make sure your smoke detectors are functional, and locate your fire extinguisher
Landlords are required to provide a smoke detector for every bedroom. Beyond that, at least one is required for the hallway outside of the bedrooms, as well as one on each floor, including the attic and basement. A dysfunctional smoke detector won’t save any lives, so make sure they all have new batteries upon moving in. Fire extinguishers are not mandated by law, but most landlords supply them anyway. Take a couple minutes to locate it, so you’re not scrambling during an emergency.
Make sure every stove burner is switched off
This seems intuitive, but in tighter kitchens, it’s easy to unknowingly flip the knobs from “off” to “on.” Gas will begin to leak out, and that puts all residents in danger should a small spark or flame ignite it. After cooking and before bed, do a quick double-check to ensure everything is off, including the oven itself.
If by chance you do smell gas, don’t panic, but don’t light up a candle just yet. Check those knobs. If that’s the problem, switch them off, and open the windows and doors to let the fumes out. If the burners are completely off and the fumes are particularly strong or spreading to other rooms in the apartment or house, grab the animals, head outside, and call the fire department. There might be a gas leak.
Place candles (and incense) wisely, and snuff them after each use
Finds spots for these items where kids and animals won’t get to them and where they won’t come into contact with other objects. Keep candles away from curtains, towels and napkins. Don’t let ash from incense just free fall — place a tray underneath it. If you’re leaving the house, be sure all that’s lighted is put out.
If using an electric or gas space heater, give it room to breathe
Don’t place these objects anywhere near walls or furniture by providing at least three feet of space. Don’t warm up your hoodie, gloves or socks using a portable heater as it’s likely to at least singe if not burn completely.
Try not to have a bunch of other devices on the same plug as the heater, as it may overload. And as with the candles and incense, switch it off and unplug it completely before leaving the house.
As the holidays roll around, mind your decorations
The Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness published some tips on fire safety as we move into the winter months. Trees, both live and artificial, should be kept away from any flames and heat sources (like that space heater!); don’t use electrical lights on metallic trees, as electrocution is a risk; indoor lights are for indoors, and outdoor lights are for outdoors, exclusively; and dispose of your live tree as soon as possible. Most tree fires occur on or after New Year’s Day.
These tips might seem like a given, but 73 Ohioans have died fire-related deaths this year. Last year, 110 died in total, slightly fewer than in 2015. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day routine and forget something that can result in dangerous consequences. Taking the extra minute to run down the list of precautions can end up ensuring the safety of yourself and your household.
For more information and for general fire safety information, visit weathersafety.ohio.gov.
This article is presented by Hometeam Property Management, Columbus, Ohio. Hometeam has one of the largest selections of single-family homes for rent in The Ohio State University district. All of our homes are newly or recently remodeled with hardwood floors, porches, decks, security systems and much more! Outside the campus area, we also own and manage multiple single-family homes and Luxury apartments around the Columbus area, including in German Village, Hilliard, Dublin, Grandview and Reynoldsburg. For more information, visit www.hometeamproperties.net.