For many, Thanksgiving is a time when families and friends come together to reflect, give thanks for all of life’s blessings, pray, share, and more. As this year’s Thanksgiving approaches, many families are looking forward to their Thanksgiving dinner. However, as a property manager, the approach of this holiday season can be a bit worrying. This is because Thanksgiving is also a peak time for residential fires, burglary, and other safety issues.
Statistics show that the risk of fire on Thanksgiving is more than the rest of the days in a year. During this holiday weekend, more residential building fires are usually reported to fire departments. The fires may result in injuries or damage to a rental property. As you would expect, a vast majority of these fires are cooking-related and mostly occur around midday, the prime time for turkey-cooking. Moreover, multi-family homes are usually the most affected. Cases of burglary and break-ins are also rampant during Thanksgiving as some people may be away from their residences.
As a residential property manager, the safety of your tenants and buildings should be your main priority during the holiday period. The good thing is that these fires and theft are easily preventable. It is imperative that you put in place the necessary measures to reduce the risk of fire and theft. So, how do you ensure that your tenants and properties are safe during the Thanksgiving season? Here are 10 Thanksgiving safety tips from the pros to ensure your rental properties and residents are out of danger.
Thanksgiving Safety Tips
1. Educate Residents About Fire Safety
When it comes to fire safety, renters hold much of the responsibility. Therefore, one of the best Thanksgiving safety tips would be to inform them of key safety tips. Send your tenants materials on how to cook safely and how to prevent cooking fires. For instance, you can email the tenants reminding them to be careful during the Thanksgiving period and follow certain safety tips. You can also print and distribute educational posters on fire prevention. Slip them under the doors and post some in common areas.
Brianne Deerwester, the Communications Coordinator for the Electrical Safety Foundation International, offers a few specific tips that you can share with your tenants:
Property managers should remind their tenants that cooking is the leading cause of home fires and fire injuries. Prevent fires by keeping your oven and stove top clean of grease and dust. Never leave the kitchen while cooking. Remember to test smoke alarms monthly, change batteries yearly, and replace alarms every 10 years.
2. Have a Fire Evacuation Procedure in Place
It is important for a rental property manager to have a comprehensive evacuation procedure in case of an emergency and communicate it to tenants. This will help to reduce panic and confusion should a fire occur. Make sure all tenants are familiar with fire escape routes and assembling points in case of a fire. Access to information on fire escape routes in a building is one of the basic thanksgiving safety tips you shouldn’t ignore. Most tenants often don’t remember to ask about emergency evacuation routes and the location of emergency supplies until there is an actual emergency. As a property manager, you should take this Thanksgiving period to share this information with them. Don’t wait until it is too late.
3. Hold Fire Evacuation Drills
Residents being familiar with fire evacuation procedures is important but not enough. A rental property manager can effectively prepare residents for fire incidences by carrying out random drills. This is the best way to test the fire evacuation plan and make sure everyone knows their responsibilities in case of an emergency.
4. Inspect Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
No matter how careful residents may be, residential fires may still happen. A fire alarm is usually an early warning to renters that a fire has broken out. This can be the difference between the life and death of all the renters occupying the building. A property manager can prevent fatalities in case of a fire by inspecting the rental properties and making sure that all smoke detectors are working. If there are common areas or units without them, make sure they are installed. It would be best to have a detector in each room.
Jake Lizarraga (a writer at REITS) points out that,
Now is the time to check all the fire and carbon monoxide alarms if it hasn’t already been done, as well as get the fire extinguishers serviced. Lots of cooking and people (and fried turkeys) have been known to cause fires.
Jeff Pepperney, President of Real Property Management, explains that:
Thanksgiving is the leading day for home cooking fires. Property managers should test smoke alarms and replace batteries, and do the same for carbon monoxide detectors this Thanksgiving. A tenant can easily replace the batteries, but it is very possible the unit still may not work. Testing the unit checks for correct operation, whereas replacing the batteries only ensures fresh batteries.
Related: 7 Tips to Keep Your Rental Property Safe and Increase Security
5. Burglar-Proof Your Rental Property
To prevent cases of burglary during this holiday period, make sure you implement burglar-proofing measures. This includes installing external lighting, a security system, surveillance cameras, etc. If they are already there, check to see that they are working properly.
In the words of Stephanie Lloyd, head of Toggle:
Have tenants check to make sure all doors, windows, and locks are functioning properly.
Jake Lizarraga from REITS adds that:
Since people will be coming in and out of properties during the holidays, be aware that there is the possibility of issues occurring where burglary and other break-ins are possible—check locks, make sure everything surrounding property security is in working order. Finally, don’t get involved in family fights. Call the police.
According to Stephany Smith, a home security expert at Fantastic Services, you can also get creative with fake security tools:
If you don’t have a security system to watch your home while you’re on a Thanksgiving shopping spree, don’t leave your property vulnerable to break-ins. First, make sure your home looks like everybody’s home. Make the burglars think twice when you make some noise with a TV turned on (or TV simulator), install a timer to a light fixture, or add a motion sensor. To trick the burglars’ mind, it’s smart to put up a board, saying:
- “Warning! Neighborhood Crime Watch”
- “Dog in Premises”
- “24-hour home security camera in use”.
6. Provide Fire Extinguishers
Fire extinguishers can help to prevent small fires from escalating. A property manager should ensure that all kitchens and common areas have fire extinguishers. If they are already in place, test them periodically to ensure they are working. They should be strategically placed and easy to access by the residents in case of a fire.
Josh Matteson, the Online Marketing Manager at Lula, suggests that property managers:
Double-check the expiration dates on each unit’s fire extinguishers. One of the main concerns for property managers on Thanksgiving is a burning turkey. If a working fire extinguisher is on hand, the likelihood of a catastrophe drops significantly.
7. Remove Dry Vegetation Near the Homes
During Thanksgiving, families often do some of their cooking outdoors. Dry shrubberies and dead vegetation around the houses could catch fire and even spread to uncontrollable levels. To prevent wildfires, make sure that vegetation close to the houses is well trimmed and not dry. This is more crucial during dry seasons. Also, remove or trim any branches that may be hanging over the roof of the rental property.
8. Check the Condition of Cooking Equipment
Some residential fires are caused by faulty cooking equipment. One of the crucial Thanksgiving safety tips is to ensure that all cooking equipment is properly installed and regularly maintained prior to the turkey day. Appliances that are faulty or too old should be replaced. Moreover, make sure that the residents know how to use them and what to do should the equipment malfunction. Cooking gas systems should also be checked for leakages and repaired.
9. Ask Tenants to Avoid Electronical Overload
Thanksgiving dinner preparations typically involve using many different appliances such as toaster ovens, mixers, slow cookers, etc. Guests may also come with extra devices like laptops, phones, and hair dryers. If the home does not have the wiring capacity to handle the extra appliances, the system may overload and even lead to an electrical fire. To prevent any electrical issues and possible residential fires, property managers should ask tenants to limit the number of appliances used simultaneously.
10. Prohibit Use of Grills and Turkey Fryers Indoors
Being a property manager means that you are responsible for enforcing all property rules that would improve the safety of the tenants and rental property. If renters use barbecue grills in their houses, garage, or balconies, fires are more likely to occur. One way of reducing the risk of fire is banning the use of grills and turkey fryers on the property or very close to the property.
In the words of Jeff Pepperney, President of Real Property Management:
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that 1,000 residential fires are started by a turkey fryer every year, leading to the destruction of nearly 900 homes and causing injury and even death. Property Managers should consider banning tenants from deep frying turkeys at their residences this Thanksgiving. Although it is a popular and tasty way to prepare a turkey, a large vat of oil and an open flame burner opens the door to serious risks. For example, leftover ice from a turkey that has not been fully thawed can react with the oil, causing the oil to overflow and catch fire. Or if there is simply too much oil in a vat, it could overflow when a turkey is placed in it, also causing a fire.
The Bottom Line
Managing rental properties may seem easy until the approach of holiday seasons like Thanksgiving. Generally, Thanksgiving is known to be the peak of residential fires and other safety issues. This poses a huge risk to residential property, tenants, and even the property manager. Therefore, as Thanksgiving approaches, every property manager should put fire safety in mind. Practicing these Thanksgiving safety tips will help you and your tenants to truly enjoy your Thanksgiving feasts without much worry.
Are you looking to be a property manager or improve your property management skills? If so, be sure to visit Mashvisor’s blog to learn more. And check out Mashboard to see how else Mashvisor can help you as a property manager.
Related: 7 Ways to Give Your Property Management Career a Boost
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