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As snow continues to fall in New York City, it is tempting to find creative ways to conserve heat and keep warm – scented candles, a heated blanket, a space heater under the desk while you work from home. But as temperatures drop, the risk of fire can increase.

 

“There are a number of things that can go wrong during the winter months when everyone is trying to stay warm, and many people decorate for the holidays,” Stacey Kwiatkoski, Director of Operations at MD Squared, explains, “Often holiday decorations, overused extension cords, and scented candles cause an increase in the number of fires we see in New York City”.

 

At MD Squared, we encourage landlords and residents to share the responsibility of maintaining safe living conditions. Within the first two weeks of each new year, our Operations team distributes fire safety instructions to all tenants, for their building. Each tenant is asked to carefully review this information each year and understand what to do in the event of a fire or other emergency.

In addition to knowing your building’s procedures, take the following steps to keep yourself and your neighbors safe.

  1. Test your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors once a month

New York City law requires that landlords equip all apartments and dwellings with both carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. What you may not know is that the upkeep of these essential devices is largely the responsibility of the resident.

Get into the habit of testing your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors once a month, right after paying your rent! Alert your landlord immediately if the “end-of-life” alarm sounds on a carbon monoxide detector. Carbon monoxide detectors do not work when in end-of-life mode, so don’t put this off!

Make sure the detectors are never covered or painted over, and replace the batteries at least twice a year, or immediately if a detector is signaling low battery life.

  1. Consider safe and inexpensive ways to prepare your home for colder weather

  • Try a weather insulation kit for drafty windows. These kits are typically inexpensive and easy to use. A thin piece of plastic taped securely around the window can do wonders for a draft. In the event that you need to use the window as an emergency exit, the plastic can easily be torn down.

  • Roll up old towels or blankets and place at the base of windows or doors. These can also stop cold air from entering your home, at no additional expense.

  • Cover wood floors with area rugs in the winter. This can help to keep hot air from escaping, and you may also see a decrease in your monthly heating bill.

  • Purchase battery-operated candles for the same cozy winter glow, without the risk of open flame.

    3. Know what to avoid when heating your home.

  • Don’t seal up drafty windows with caulk or any other more permanent sealants.

  • Never use kerosene or propane space heaters – these are strictly prohibited by New York City law.

Try not to use space heaters at all, if you can help it, and always check with your property management team before purchasing. If space heaters are allowed in your building, be sure to buy them new, not used. Avoid covering the heater or blocking the vents, and never use it to dry clothing. These can all create fire hazards.

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