Apartment fire safety -- Are you in danger?

By Gray Hall - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Recently, we've reported on several apartment fires in the area. It prompted a question about apartment fire safety. We did some investigating and have some tips to keep you safe.

Lt. Shawn Jones, with the Richmond Fire Department, admits safety is probably not the first thing on a person's mind when they move into an apartment. He says, "They are excited and thrilled about getting their first place of their own but keep safety in mind as you do that."

Fire safety is important because you could easily become the next victim of a fire. Recently we covered a Richmond apartment fire on Grace Street -- several buildings had to be evacuated. Also, there was a recent fire in Chesterfield -- at the Old Buckingham Apartments -- 40 people were displaced. Also in Chesterfield, a person captured an apartment fire on their cell phone -- someone left food one the stove and fell asleep.

Jones says, "cooking remains the number one cause of house fires in Richmond and around the country and the result is often because of unattended cooking." Lt. Jones says if you rent an apartment with a gas stove, it's important to make sure all the burners work properly and of course a working smoke detector is Fire Safety 101.

He says, "Make sure you have one on each level." An escape route is crucial -- if you live on a second floor, invest in an escape ladder, if you don't have one, keep in mind you may have to jump. Jones says, "That is a life or death decision that you have to make pertaining to stay put and take in all the smoke, or either jump and risk the possibility of breaking a leg. But that is an option you have wage and gauge yourself."

Other things to look for, make sure the light fixtures and electrical outlets are all covered. Ensure all doors open and close properly. Lt. Jones says ask the management lots of questions -- he says a big one is Renter's Insurance. "Renters insurance is not because of what you may do but renter's insurance is to cover your stuff in the event that your neighbor apartment catches fire and spreads to yours," Jones said.

So if you're in the market for an apartment -- it's okay to be thrilled about the luxuries -- but remember, safety first. A reminder, the Richmond fire department offers free smoke detectors and home safety surveys. To visit their website, for more safety tips and contact numbers click here.

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