Staying Safe This Winter Season: Tips for Property Managers

Last modified on November 30th, 2016


Some property managers describe winter as a slow time of year; more tenants tend to move during summer months. But a property manager’s duties aren’t limited to summer leasing season–maintenance and safety is a year-round job!

Did you know that carbon monoxide poisoning, certain kinds of residential fires, and accidental falls peak around the coldest months of the year? Not even the best manager can prevent all accidents. Responsible and prepared property managers can take steps to manage the risks and try to limit the number of issues that arise.

Learn more about the most serious winter risks in your area. Then consider these simple tips to reduce the chance of common accidents.

Fire and Inhalation Injury Prevention

Property managers should know that residential fires cause the most fatalities, injuries, and property damage during the entire year, according to FEMA. In addition, home fires peak from December through February. Common causes of serious fires include cooking, electrical malfunctions, and candles. Also, portable heaters, malfunctioning furnaces, and sealed homes contribute to an increase in carbon monoxide illnesses and deaths during the coldest months of the year.

These statistics from the Electrical Safety Foundation demonstrate the risk:

  • Two out of three residential fatalities from fires happened in homes that did not have working smoke alarms or any alarms at all.
  • Cooking, heating, and electrical problems are leading cause of home fires.
  • Many fires start because something flammable rests too close to a source of heat or fire.

These safety tips can help reduce the risk and severity of fires:

  • Have furnaces checked and maintained before it gets cold outside. Encourage residents to report suspected problems immediately.
  • Prohibit or limit the use of portable heaters inside homes. If portable heaters are allowed, management should ensure they are new models that have been manufactured to current safety standards and that residents know how to use their heaters wisely.
  • Encourage the use of battery-powered holiday decorations and discourage or prohibit candles or electric lights. If residents understand why these rules are imposed, they are likely to comply cheerfully.
  • Install and check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. These safety devices do work, are not expensive, and just need to be maintained periodically.
  • Cooking actually causes the most reported and unreported fires. It’s impossible to keep residents from cooking, but it might be helpful to send out some educational tip sheets and warnings before the holidays. It’s also fair to prohibit certain types of cooking, like grills or deep fryers on the patio of an apartment.
  • Creative property managers might package some educational information with some holiday cards, a complementary flashlight, a small fire extinguisher, or another inexpensive but useful gift. These days, computer or mobile surveys that offer a prize for completion may also be effective.

Minimize the Chance of Ice-Related Accidents

Icy or snow-covered pathways, driveways, and parking lots increase the risk of slips and falls or even vehicle accidents. Property managers can save themselves a lot of grief by making sure that they keep walkways, driveways, and other property clear as promptly as possible. Rather than relying upon tenants to clear their own walkways, it may just work out to be easier and safer to include that as part of the normal property’s upkeep that the landlord handles. If this is part of the tenant’s responsibility, it should be included in the lease and enforced.

Why Is Winter Safety Important?

Wintertime does bring a lot of safety concerns. The good news is that many accidents can be avoided by imposing a few rules and providing some education about the importance of safety. No property managers or owners want to learn about serious accidents on their property. In addition, these accidents could result in injuries, deaths, lawsuits, expensive repairs, and lost revenue.

In the long run, an investment in safety will almost certainly pay for itself. If tenants understand that certain rules are in place for their own protection, they are more likely to comply and have a safer winter season.

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