Cold weather dangers: Fires and smoke inhalation

On Behalf of | Sep 19, 2023 | Premises Liability - Ingress/Egress |

As the temperature drops, people need to stay warm – but landlords and managers sometimes try to scrimp on heating costs. It’s not uncommon for indoor temperatures to be uncomfortably (even dangerously) cold in some buildings.

When indoor temperatures plummet, people often turn to space heaters or run their ovens with the doors open for warmth. While understandable, this practice poses a significant risk.

One danger compounds another

Space heaters and ovens are not designed for continuous, unattended use as heating sources. When left on for extended periods, they can overheat, malfunction or come into contact with flammable materials, leading to fires that can quickly get out of control. Furthermore, the improper use of gas ovens can result in carbon monoxide leaks, which is its own deadly threat.

However, that’s not the only issue. Landlords and business owners sometimes do things that end up making it impossible for people to easily escape a building in a crisis. For example:

  • Adding bars over the windows: These may help keep intruders out, but security measures shouldn’t compromise tenant safety. In a fire, bars over the windows could leave people trapped without the possibility of escape.
  • Removing fire escapes: Again, landlords sometimes do this to reduce break-ins (because it’s cheaper than adding security guards or cameras), but that can easily lead to a disaster in an emergency situation.
  • Poor smoke detector practices: Whether they have dead batteries, aren’t properly placed or are missing entirely, problems with a building’s smoke detectors can leave people without adequate warning that a fire has started.
  • Not maintaining fire doors: Fire doors play a crucial role in containing fires and preventing their spread. If these doors do not close properly or are faulty, they become a hazard rather than a safety feature.

If you’ve suffered injuries from burns or smoke inhalation due to negligent landlord practices during the winter, you may have grounds for a premise liability claim. Understanding more about the responsibilities of property owners and managers and your rights as a tenant can help you make informed decisions and to secure any compensation that you may be rightfully due.