The festive holiday season has arrived. But along with the gifts and twinkling lights comes a need for additional caution to help you and your tenants avoid fire, theft, injury and other dangers that increase around the holidays.
So, now is the time to share warm holiday greetings and the following winter and holiday safety tips with your tenants. If your lease has specific rules that apply to decorations such as outdoor lights, be sure to remind tenants of those, too.
Deck the halls, walls and roofs safely by following advice from Pepco and the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
- When stringing lights outside, make sure they are made for outdoor use and plug them into a GFCI outlet. Make sure extension cords are made for outdoor use, too
- Always check all lights and cords carefully for broken sockets, frayed wires or bad connections and toss or replace any damaged sets
- Lights should be tested and certified safe by an independent lab, such as Underwriters Laboratory (UL)
- Never attach more than three strings of lights to the same electric outlet or extension cord
In addition, as Bigger Pockets points out, hanging outdoor lights on the roof increases the chances that a tenant will be injured or cause damage to the roof. Be sure to share any guidelines you have for installing roof decorations, such as any prohibition against walking or climbing on the roof. Encourage tenants to use common sense safety measures when climbing ladders to create their dazzling displays.
Christmas Trees cause more than 200 fires each year, according to the National Fire Protection Association. To avoid fire danger, the association suggests choosing a fresh, green tree or an artificial tree labeled as fire retardant. In addition:
- Ensure the tree is three feet from fireplaces, radiators, candles and other heat sources
- Water fresh trees daily
- Choose lights carefully, following the recommendations for lights above
- Always turn off or unplug tree lights when going out or going to bed
- Dispose of trees when they start drying out and dropping needles
- Never use candles on or near evergreens and other greenery
- Never leave candles unattended
- Consider using battery operated candles in your décor instead
Thieves are looking for homes with lots of valuable holiday gifts, so don’t give them an invitation. Keep gifts out of windows and don’t leave boxes from expensive electronic goodies at the curb or in the alley. The D.C. Metropolitan Police Department suggests breaking down boxes and hiding them in trash bags and/or waiting to place them outside until the night before trash collection.
When going out of town, MDC suggests putting lights on timers and halting mail and newspaper deliveries. Remind tenants to notify you when will be away for an extended period of time.
Hopefully your reminders will help keep your tenants and your property safe. But because of the added danger of the season, some extra checks are in order. Make sure all carbon monoxide and smoke detectors in your rental are properly installed and in good working order and inspect, replace or refill fire extinguishers as needed.
By creating awareness of potential hazards, you can help ensure you and your tenants have a happy and safe holiday season.
– By Jill S. Gross