Houston Apartment Association Stay safe during holidays

December 23, 2018

The holidays are supposed to be a joyful time, but can also be stressful. Apartment living sometimes intensifies these experiences as we find ways to fit more people, more cooking and more decorations into smaller spaces. Here are a few tips to make this holiday season a breeze.

Visitors. Family togetherness is a wonderful thing, but check your lease and property rules before you invite all your cousins and their kids to stay in your apartment. Most leases have specific provisions about this, and the fire code puts restriction on the maximum number of occupants in your apartment as well.

Christmas trees. There’s nothing quite like the smell of a real, freshly-cut Christmas tree in your living room, but check your lease and property rules first. Some properties prohibit real trees. If you do have a tree, be careful with it. Extension cords with multiple strings of lights can be a fire hazard. Real trees need plenty of water. Every year, HAA donates a tree to the Houston Fire Department in early December. They purposely let it dry out, then invite the local media to watch them put a match to it around New Year’s Day. It makes a pretty spectacular fire, which should be a lesson to all of us.

Decorations. That giant inflatable snowman would look so cool on your balcony, right? Especially with a dozen strings of colored lights woven around the railing. Check with the property manager before you recreate the North Pole on your patio. Don’t overload electrical outlets. Candlelight is cozy, but candles are prohibited in many lease agreements. If candles are permitted, never leave them unattended.

Cooking. Holidays are all about food. Some of us do a lot of cooking this time of the year — often preparing more involved, more complicated dishes to celebrate the season. The majority of apartment fires start in kitchens. With something baking in the oven while three pots are cooking on three separate burners, it’s easy to make a mistake. Every apartment should have a small multi-purpose fire extinguisher near the entrance to the kitchen. Now is a great time to check the gauge to make sure it’s charged. See that everyone in your family knows where it is and how to use it. If your famous holiday blackened Cajun turkey breast blackens a bit too much and sets off the smoke alarm, make sure that alarm is reset with a fresh battery once you get things under control. If a smoke alarm or fire extinguisher is missing or broken, notify the manager in writing immediately.

The “winter wonderland” that is Houston means cooking outside in December is often a real option. Remember that grilling on balconies and patios is prohibited by the Fire Code. You can still enjoy eating al fresco — many apartment properties have permanent grills and outdoor kitchens set up safely away from buildings, and the Houston area has lots of parks with grills and picnic tables.

Heat. It occasionally gets cold in Houston. If the heat isn’t working properly, notify the manager in writing immediately.

Avoid portable space heaters and other measures that may not be safe.

Houston’s apartment industry professionals wish you and your family a wonderful holiday season.

This article was provided by the Houston Apartment Association. For more information, visit www.haaonline.org.

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