Houston Apartment Association Know the safety features in your apartment
New apartments are safer than ever.
Every three years or so, the City of Houston updates its building and fire codes, making sure new apartment communities have state-of-the-art safety features to go with all the modern amenities. Since the 1980s, apartment properties have monitored pull-station alarms and extensive fire sprinkler systems.
Many of these modern systems are not required in older apartments. While installing a sprinkler system makes sense at the time of construction, adding one to an existing, occupied apartment building is a bit like trying to overhaul the engine of a car while you’re driving it. There are, however, important safety features in older apartment communities, and some things you need to know about them.
Fire extinguishers — Every apartment unit in Houston without a sprinkler system is required to have a portable fire extinguisher near the entrance to the kitchen. Each one is ABC rated, meaning it can put out all kinds of small fires. Make sure you know where yours is located, and make sure to keep it where you can get to it quickly, not behind all your cleaning supplies in the back of the cabinet under the sink. Each extinguisher has a small gauge showing it’s fully charged, and an expiration date. Make a point to look at both, and let the manager know if yours needs to be replaced. Also, a lot of small extinguishers manufactured by a company called Kidde were part of an extensive product recall last year due to a clogging issue. If you have a Kidde extinguisher in your unit, call 855-271-0773 toll-free, or go to www.kidde.com to see if yours needs to be replaced.
Smoke alarms — Every apartment in Texas is required to have smoke alarms. Newer apartments have alarms that are hard-wired and interconnected. Older apartments have “single-station” alarms, mostly powered by 9-volt batteries. The law says the property has to provide alarms in working order when you move in, but it then becomes your responsibility to change the batteries and make sure they continue to work. If you ever have a cooking mishap and have to disable a smoke alarm, make sure you put the battery back in as soon as you can. We recommend changing your smoke alarm batteries in the spring and fall when you change your clocks for daylight savings time.
Barbecue grills — Don’t grill on your apartment patio or balcony. It’s against the law.
Renter’s insurance — Finally, doing everything right doesn’t mean you’re not going to have a neighbor who makes a mistake. Even if your community doesn’t require it, think about getting renter’s insurance to cover your stuff.
It’s a bargain, as insurance policies go, and is a great way to avoid a financial calamity in the event of a fire or other disaster.
This article was provided by the Houston Apartment Association. For more information, visit www.haaonline.org.