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Fire Prevention - Tips and Reminders for Staying Safe

by Kijner & Sons International Realty

Fire Prevention Week falls during October, and this month is a great opportunity to review fire safety and preparedness for your home and family. Preventing a fire in the first place can mean the difference between safety and devastation.

Cooking is the most common causes of house fires, and as a daily activity the potential for problems is high if care is not taken around the kitchen. While cooking, never leave cookware on the stove unattended. It can take just moments for hot oil or grease to flare up, and a pan of forgotten food can go up in flames. Baking soda can be used to put out a small kitchen fire if caught right away – keep a package close at hand for ready use. Avoid wearing clothing with very long or loose sleeves while cooking as they can easily catch fire if they make contact with an open flame or hot burner. Keep towels and flammable pot holders away from the stove. 

Electrical cords and appliances should be kept in good repair, and any damaged wires or sockets should be replaced right away. Don’t overload electrical outlets – use power strips only when necessary and make sure they are properly rated. Electronics and small appliances should be unplugged when not in use to avoid potential problems.

Keep the dryer vent hose free of lint and other buildup, as dryer heat can easily spark a fire there. Check and clean the hose at least once a year for best results. Depending on how and where the hose is installed, the process can be as simple as using your vacuum cleaner to remove buildup. Bonus: the dryer will also run more efficiently with a clean hose. There are also professional services that will clean your venting system for a nominal charge. Never leave the house while the dryer is running – if a fire should start, you will only discover it too late.

Should a fire occur, fire extinguishers need to be easily accessible to the kitchen and laundry areas. Make sure any extinguisher is labeled for use on the three common types of fires – grease, paper/wood, and electrical. These multipurpose extinguishers are labeled as “A B C rated.” Using the wrong type of extinguisher on a particular fire can make the situation worse and can even be life-threatening. Water should never be used on an electrical fire or on grease fires as this will just cause the fire to worsen. 

Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of the home and outside all sleeping areas. The newest types of residential smoke detectors have 10-year batteries, and many are available in updated, low-profile designs. If your smoke alarms use replaceable batteries, change the batteries once a year; many people use the transition from Daylight Saving Time as a reminder to do this task. Hard-wired smoke alarm systems should be inspected according to the installer’s or manufacturer’s instructions.

Make – and practice – a family escape plan. Make sure each family member knows how to quickly get out of the house to safety in the event of a fire. The National Fire Protection Association recommends having two ways out of the house, in case smoke or flames make one of the exit routes impossible to use. Smoke can fill a house within minutes, making it difficult or even impossible to see the way out. With preventive measures, you can lower the chances of a fire, but careful planning can help you and your family survive if the worst happens.

Questions? Comments? Are you looking to buy or sell a house, a condo, a coop or a villa in Miami Florida or New York City? Contact us today at info@kijner.com.

Sick House Syndrome

by Kijner & Sons International Realty

What Is Sick House Syndrome, and What Causes It?

Sick House Syndrome occurs when a house can’t “breathe” and rid itself of indoor pollutants, resulting in poor indoor air quality – a “sick house”. Inadequate ventilation allows these pollutants to build up, causing potential health risks to the home’s occupants. Young children, the elderly, and some chronically ill persons are most susceptible to the effects of Sick House Syndrome.

Common sources of indoor pollution include tobacco smoke, certain carpeting materials, furnaces and fireplaces, pressed wood cabinets and furniture, and household cleaning products. In addition, a buildup of moisture can cause mold, which can grow uncontrolled inside walls, crawlspaces, and other areas. Mold spores are released into the air and can also travel throughout the home via heating and cooling ductwork.

How Can Indoor Pollution Be Reduced?

Source control is usually the most effective way to improve indoor air quality. In some cases, eliminating the specific sources of indoor pollution – for example, removing carpets, repairing and maintaining faulty furnaces – is all that is necessary. It’s also a good idea to have heating and cooling ducts cleaned every few years.

For many other offending substances, improving ventilation is a key means of decreasing indoor pollution. These include tobacco smoke, cleaning products, and moisture buildup. Many newer homes in particular are so well insulated and sealed that only a very limited amount of fresh air can get in. In this situation, using attic or window fans and opening windows when weather permits are easy and inexpensive ways to increase ventilation. Over the years, tobacco smoke can actually be absorbed by walls, floors, and ceilings and may need to be professionally removed.

Asbestos and lead do not normally cause problems if they are undisturbed, but these and other hazardous substances should be analyzed by a qualified professional to determine if sealing, abatement, or removal is warranted. The presence of these materials may also need to be included in disclosure forms when selling a home, so special attention is warranted in these situations.

Questions? Comments? Are you looking to buy or sell a house, a condo, a coop or a villa in Miami Florida or New York City? Contact us today at info@kijner.com.

 

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83-85 Boulevard de Charonne, 75011 Paris, France


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