State and local governments create laws on public health, including regulations meant to improve home safety.
Those laws don't just apply to businesses and public spaces. They can also affect your home or the residential buildings you own as a landlord. Not following those rules can result in a hefty fine or a lawsuit if an injury results from lack of safety equipment.
Never mind the legal ramifications, not having these devices puts you and your family at risk every day. It's not a long list so make sure you have it all.
- Smoke detectors. Almost every home these days has at least one smoke detector but that's not necessarily enough. Some local ordinances require detectors in every bedroom and at least on in a common space. Homeowners are also often required to test the device at least once a year to make sure it's working. Don't forget to change the batteries while you're at it.
- Fire extinguishers. Another item that most homes already have but how long have you had it? Just like most other things, fire extinguishers have an expiration date. Check that it's current before you're in the middle of a grease fire on Thanksgiving. If it's expired, the extinguisher won't do much good so replace it as soon as you can.
- Carbon monoxide detectors. The colorless and odorless gas is dangerous and difficult for people to detect unaided. Too much carbon monoxide is deadly but it's hard to know when it's in your home. Local and state governments are responding to the deaths caused by carbon monoxide poisoning by requiring detection devices in residences and rental units.
Any of these devices could save your life in an emergency and not having one can open you to liability. To find out whether these devices are required in your community, check with your local fire marshal or pose a question to the FindLaw Answers Forum.
- Carbon Monoxide Detectors State Statutes (National Conference of State Legislatures)
- After the Fire: Claims for Injuries Caused by Defective Smoke Detectors (FindLaw's KnowledgeBase)
- William Shatner's Turkey Fryer Fire a Cautionary Tale (FindLaw's Common Law)