Keeping your balcony safe over the holidays

As the nights draw in, the temperature falls well below zero and the holidays approach, it’s important to stay mindful of the risk fire can pose to an apartment even in the cold.

Keeping ourselves warm can lead us to introduce potential sources of ignition into our homes. Avoiding preventable disasters is crucial year-round but keeping your balcony safe over the holidays is key as we approach the end of the year.

Limiting the risk of balcony fires

Sapphire conducted an interview with Manchester Fire Department Officer Kevin Brelsford to discuss how to limit the risk of fire on a balcony. Please watch below:

Five Tips for keeping your balcony fire-safe

There are five vital takeaway points from the video above. Keeping your balcony safe over the holidays can be simple by following these five steps.

    1. Minimise all ignition sources. This can mean checking that any fairy lights are kept indoors, dry and away from water. Check that there are no breaks in the wiring that could spark if plugged in. By minimising your ignition sources, fires can be prevented.
    2. Minimise any combustibles. Do not leave any recycling on a balcony as certain materials like wrapping paper or cardboard boxes can act as fuel for a fire. If even a small spark or ember reached these combustibles, a fire could easily start.
    3. All plants or trees should be kept watered. It may be tempting to keep a Christmas tree on a balcony for decorative purposes, but if done, the tree should be small and watered often to minimise any dry branches. Dry branches could act as fuel for a fire and so should be avoided.
    4. Bamboo or other dry plants should not be used on a balcony for decorative purposes. Bamboo is often used as a form of privacy on glass or vertical bar balustrades, but as a very dry plant, it also lights very easily and so should be avoided. Instead of bamboo, perhaps opt for fake ivy curtaining, which is far less likely to combust.
    5. Where possible, do not smoke on a balcony. A lit cigarette is a source of ignition, and 44% of fires are caused by smoking. Instead, opt to leave the building for a cigarette or use a lightless e-cigarette alternative.

Keeping your balcony safe over the holidays means taking small but considerate measures over the colder months. Avoid smoking on balconies and do not leave combustible materials such as wrapping paper or dry plants outside. By following these measures, both your and your neighbour’s apartment units can be kept safe and you can enjoy the end-of-year festivities with the peace of mind that safety has come first.

Fire Whitepaper

Download our fire whitepaper to expand your knowledge on how best to protect residential high-rise buildings from fire.

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Cold weather balcony safety

Staying safe during winter is a must for all of us, but we must also understand the importance of keeping our balconies safe against freezing conditions that are common amongst communities in the northern hemisphere.

Understanding that dangers like slippage and/or thermal performance are present and being able to mitigate against them by using slip-resistant decking options or bespoke thermal breaks means that not only will the end-user be safer when on the balcony, they can also be safer and warmer inside the building too.

We’ve put together a whitepaper, summarising an experimental program undertaken by Sapphire and our development partners to assess the balcony system response to snow and ice accumulation – two phenomena that must be expected during Canadian winters. To learn more about the freeze-thaw and cold weather performance of our balconies, visit the link below.

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