I’ve been writing about real estate for nearly a dozen years now, and I’m almost tired of writing about fire safety: Check the pilots on the stove. Don’t leave your Christmas tree up for two months. You know.
But now comes the latest and greatest in a series of fire stories: the pet tortoise who set his family’s apartment on fire. Specifically, Giovani, a 6-year-old pet, supposedly tipped over his terrarium, crashing into a heat lamp, sending that into a container of paint thinner, and started a blaze that took 60 firefighters to put out.
And, oh, yeah, according to Jamie Schram’s story about the fire in the New York Post, it destroyed the apartment.
So, one more time, let’s have some fire safety lessons:
1. Lesson From Giovani: Don’t Put Heat Lamps Near Paint Thinner
Sure, you think your pet tortoise will never become an escape artist, but Giovani’s story proves that you never really know. Be smart about where you put your stuff.
And, for some tips unrelated to turtles:
2. Don’t Smoke in Bed, Ever
I’d say “don’t smoke,” because it’s expensive and gives you wrinkles, but I’m not your mom. That said, I don’t think “smoke sitting up, only when you’re awake” is too much of a challenge.
3. Know How to Get Out of Your Apartment if You Need To
Do two things: Make a plan, with your eyes open, about how to get out of your place. Then practice it, just once, with your eyes closed. Do this when you travel and check into a new hotel, too. Just taking a minute to think, “Okay, the fourth doorway to the left is where the stairs are,” might save your life if there’s a fire at night.
4. Keep a Small Fire Extinguisher in the Kitchen
A Class C fire extinguisher should cost you about $25. Even if you’re not prepared to run out and get one right now, at least make sure you know where a big pot lid is. Why? If there’s a grease fire (which is the kind of fire that there’s likely to be in a kitchen) you want to clamp a pot lid on it, not throw water on it.
5. Don’t Use Any Frayed Electrical Cords
Be careful not to run cords under carpet, because if they get stepped on often, they might fray, causing a fire hazard. If the cord is frayed on the space heater or Christmas lights, you can have a lamp repair pro replace it. Or, if you’re feeling fancy, maybe even spring for a new space heater or Christmas lights.
6. Watch the Kids
Even if you don’t have your own—be vigilant when that little niece or nephew is around! Things that you wouldn’t do – like light matches, turn knobs on the stove, knock over pots and play with a lighter — all seem like games to the little ones. What’s more, Monica Bielanko from the blog Strollerderby notes that young children are more likely to sleep through a fire alarm than adults are. So watch them. You’re watching for two.
7. Keep Space Heaters Three Feet From Bedding
It’s great to be toasty, but not that toasty. Our friends at the Consumer Product Safety commission note that it’s good to keep space heaters away from curtains. If you’re creating a sexy atmosphere with candles, don’t put them near the curtains, either.