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Holiday safety tips for vertical dwellers

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Among the biggest joys of vertical living is a fairly hassle-free lifestyle, at least compared to being shackled to a house. But the livin’ can be so easy that it's also easy to become blasé about security and other safety issues.  That bubbleboy mentality can be a problem during the holidays, when everything from a tsunami of deliveries to a winter-vacation-exodus can compromise the delicate ecosystem of your safety zone.

For some tips on having a healthy, happy vertical holiday, we checked in with a few of our experts:

Deliveries:

  • If you live in a non-doorman building, remind yourself and everyone who lives with you NEVER to buzz up someone claiming to have a delivery unless they can tell you the first and last name of the person it is for (rather than just the last name--if that-- visible on your buzzer)
  • To accommodate traffic from deliveries and parties, your building should consider putting on extra staff at the door and the elevator to maintain vigilance in the lobby.   Some buildings require that residents who have large parties not only provide a guest list to the doorman, but make arrangements to have at least one or two extra staff present, paid by the resident, plus a staffed area of the lobby with a coat rack or two, says property manager Thomas Usztoke.

Vacation:

  • Instruct the staff never to leave any item in front of your door (newspaper, UPS etc) that might indicate you are not home, reminds property manager Michael Wolfe.
  • Make sure your super has your key in case of emergency. If not, give your key to a neighbor and let the super AND managment company know who has it.
  • Online communication systems like Building Link and remote doormen systems like Virtual Doorman make it easy to specify who can enter your apartment while you're away and can be easily updated remotely.  Otherwise, leave written instructions to the staff about who is allowed in and who isn't, suggests real estate broker and condo board member Steve Goldschmidt.
  • Just because you live in a doorman building doesn't mean you don’t need to close and lock all windows and doors (and not just the bottom lock!)       

Holiday decorations:

  • Lobby decorations should not block visibility or security cameras, says Wolfe.
  • At home, make sure you don't overload outlets or extension cords, says property manager Michael Donuk. "During the holidays, quite a few fires start from overloaded outlets/extension cords." Only buy electrical products with the UL tag—that means they’ve met U.S. fire safety standards.
  • If you have pets and a Christmas tree, be very careful with ornament hooks--vets treat a lot of pets this time of year who have swallowed these hooks...or gotten into low-hanging candy canes and other decorations.
  • Tree care: Dried out trees are a fire hazard. Resident manager and Superintendent's Technical Association vice president Curt Bergeest sent us these tips...
    • Make sure your tree is fresh by shaking the tree or bouncing it on the ground. If too many pine needles fall off, it's not fresh. If a small branch snaps instead of bends, it's not fresh.  
    • Before putting the tree in the stand, cut it about one or two inches from the bottom of the trunk (the tree guys will do this for you) so it absorbs water better- just like flowers
    • Don't put the tree within 3 feet of a radiator, heating vent or fireplace. further is better.
    • LED tree lights are not only "green" but less hot. If you have to use an extension cord, use a heavy duty one.
    • Make sure the tree always has water & only put the tree lights on when you are there and awake.
    • Don't wait too long to throw the tree out. You can leave it (undecorated) at the curb Jan 3-Jan 14th when trash is collected.

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