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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Fire Prevention 24-7 – Stay safe during spring break

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Spring Break is just around the corner, and everyone loves a good vacation. But if you are planning to be away for days or weeks, it’s important to make sure your home is safe. Fire safety is often the last thing people think about… but it can also be the most important.

Here are some easy tips to help avoid a house fire when gone:

  • Unplug key appliances.
  • Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they are working.
  • Make sure your home doesn’t look vacant. Consider temporally stopping your mail and deliveries and put a light on a timer inside the home.
  • Purchase a fire safety box and place all your valuables in there.
  • Turn off your main water supply.
  • Make sure a neighbor or close friend has a key incase the fire department needs to get inside.

Vacations are a time to relax not to worry about what you may come home too.

So, while many families are venturing out for Spring Break, some will rent homes or condos, while others will stay in hotels.

Many catastrophic fires occurred in the lodging industry during the 20th century. There were 12,000 hotel and motel fires in 1980 alone. But then after these fires, some code changes came about requiring smoke alarms, posted fire escape routes, automated extinguishing systems, and fire doors. There was a steady reduction in hotel and motel fires and fire losses after these changes were implemented. It is estimated that between 2014 and 2016, there were an average of 3,900 hotel and motel fires per year and 15 deaths, according to the USFA.

So, although there have been code changes for hotels and motels, making them safer, they have not made their way into the U.S. P2P (Peer to Peer) arena. Most P2P properties are private residence, making them fall under the local requirements for residential structures.
P2P lodgings are privately owned, short-term rental properties and are a fast-growing alternative to hotels and motels. But the real question is, do P2P properties have the same level of fire safety as hotels and motels? A group of researchers conducted a study in P2P lodgings across 16 cities in the United States. The goal was to see if these properties were equipped with fire safety devices.

The USFA reported that one in five Airbnb properties do not report having a smoke alarm, and about one half do not list a CO (carbon monoxide) alarm. When renting a P2P property, people need to check for these items when looking at the amenities listed, and not just assume that they are present.

If you are staying in a hotel, after you check in, you and your family should read the fire evacuation plan carefully. Find the two closest exits from your room. Count the number of doors between your room and the exits, which will help if you need to get out in the dark. Find the fire alarm pull stations on your floor.

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Soraya McLaughlin
Soraya McLaughlin
Soraya McLaughlin is the Naperville Fire Department Community Education Specialist. Contact her via email at mclaughlins@naperville.il.us.
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