With the nights getting longer and the days getting colder, fire safety is especially important during the holiday season. In fact, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency's statistics, over $2 billion in property damage occurs every year as a result of winter fires. The culprits can vary from holiday cooking and decorating, to an increased use of space heaters to keep out the chill. Fortunately, there are numerous steps that people can take to keep themselves safe from fire damage during the winter. Additionally, landlords should pay special attention during this season, so that they can be sure that they understand their fire responsibilities.
Fire Prevention Tips
Some fire prevention tips like making sure to maintain working smoke detectors are repeated year round, but there are some special things that people can do during this time of year to reduce their risk of fire. One of the major culprits of holiday fires are holiday decorations. People can find it tempting to string together strand after strand of lights, but these sorts of decorations are only built to connect so many times. Plugging too many into each other can risk creating a spark.
Holidays also tend to be a time of year where there are a lot of open flames around the house. Whether it is a fire in the fireplace or a set of candles in a menorah, these can pose a serious risk if people do not properly supervise them, or they keep them too close to flammable items like curtains or dried out Christmas trees. Similarly, excessive use of space heaters, especially overnight or when no one is home, can also set fire to household objects.
Landlords also have a variety of special responsibilities during this season. One of the most important is set out in the Illinois Smoke Detector Act. This Act makes it the responsibility of a building's owner to install smoke detectors, and to maintain the detectors in common areas like hallways. Similarly, it makes it the tenant's responsibility to maintain the detectors that the owner has put in their living areas, and it makes it the tenant's responsibility to notify the landlord if there is a problem with the detector that they cannot fix.
Landlords also have a duty to ensure that their building is up to local building codes. This includes having safe electrical wiring, which can be especially important around the holiday season. Failure to maintain adequate wiring can be a fire risk, and even if it does not cause a fire it violates the tenant's right to a habitable structure.
Fires can be some of the most devastating disasters on a personal level. If your home was damaged or destroyed in a fire and you think someone else was to blame, contact an Illinois personal injury attorney today. Our team represents people across the northwest suburbs, including in Schaumburg, Mount Prospect, and Arlington Heights. Call Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC to schedule a consultation with an experienced lawyer.
About the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.