Ensuring Your Home against a Fire

Fire safety is something that you should be prepared for at all times of the year but as we get into the winter season, and some of the coldest months of the year, it’s important to be vigilant about protecting our families and our home.

Our home is filled with loved ones and personal belongings that often time carry a sentimental value so safeguarding what’s closest to us should start from the moment you move in. During the final walkthrough with your realtor, test and make sure the smoke alarms in the residence you’re about to close on are working.

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Owners of one-and two family residences must have installed in their home a working smoke detector that provides an audible alarm within each sleeping area. This sound provides an early warning to those sleeping that there is a fire and a greater chance of getting out of the home immediately. It is a requirement for every home in New York State.

Did you know that if a fire starts you have less than two minutes to get out safely? In such a short amount of time you have to be ready to spring into action and one of the ways to do so safely without wasting a moment is to already have a fire escape plan in place that has been practiced on a regular basis. Once you move into your new home, formulate that plan early on and make sure everyone is prepared in the event a fire breaks out.

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Escape Plan

  • Know two ways out of every room.
  • A closed door can stop the spread of gas, heat and smoke.
  • Have a meeting place outside your home.
  • Know how to call 9-1-1 from outside to report a fire.
  • Practice your escape plan with everyone who lives in your home at least twice a year

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While there are many different reasons why fires break out here are the top five:

  • Kitchen – Cooking is the number one cause of home fires. It takes only seconds for a pot or a pan to overheat and grease to splatter. Most kitchen fires start because people get distracted; never leave an open flame unattended.
  • Heating Equipment – Have your furnace checked annually and if your home has a fireplace, make sure to have the chimney cleaned and inspected. During the colder months many people use portable space heaters; these can be dangerous if used improperly. Keep them away from anything that can burn and never use them to dry clothes or shoes.
  • Smoking – If you must smoke, try and do it outside. Your bedroom should be off limits; how many times do you get drowsy, just lying in bed, watching TV. A lit or improperly extinguished cigarette is dangerous. And never put an ashtray on or near anything that will burn.
  • Electrical equipment – With all of the gadgets and electronics that are out there these days it’s easy to overload outlets with plugs; do not overuse extension cords. Also, be careful of do-it-yourself electrical projects. Sometimes it’s best to leave those in the hands of a professional electrician. And check to ensure your appliances do not have loose or frayed cords/plugs.
  • Candles – Who doesn’t love the smell of a scented candle! But they be dangerous if not used properly. Keep all candles on a level surface in a sturdy holder away from combustible materials and out of the reach of children and pets.

Remember… only working smoke detectors save lives.

  • TEST your smoke detectors at least once a month. Push the test button or blow smoke into the detector.
  • CLEAN your detectors at least once a year to remove dust.
  • REPLACE the battery every year. Better yet, twice a year – when you change your clocks in the spring and fall. Replace the smoke detector after 10 years.

What’s In A Name….

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I’m sure most of us have never stopped to think about where the neighborhood’s we live in got their name, or even the history behind it. While some of the older areas are named after Dutch settlers, the newer, more industrialized locations that have turned residential over the past couple of years received their moniker based on geographical location. Take the area of DUMBO, Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. When we set out with our real estate agent, we might have chosen the location based on a number of factors, but chances are it’s not because of a name.

If we stop and think about it for a moment, there is a lot of history that helped shape not only the borough of Brooklyn, but each of the 77 neighborhoods that comprise Kings County. It’s extremely fascinating, especially if you’re a history buff.  The Brooklyn Historical Society is a great place for more in-depth knowledge on such a fascinating topic.

The borough itself has the Dutch colonists to thank for their name. In the mid 1600’s Brooklyn consisted of six separate towns. One of these towns, settled in 1646, was named “Breuckelen,” named after a village in the Netherlands. In 1664, the English gained control of the area and the name was eventually anglicized to “Brooklyn” the name residents have come to know and love.

As for the areas that comprise the borough, let’s take a look at where a few originated.

Gerritsen Beach

 Gerritsen Beach

Located just 13 miles from New York City on Brooklyn’s southern shore, this quaint and close knit community was named for the Dutch settler, Wolphert Gerretse, who built his home and mill alongside Gerritsen Creek in the early 17th century. The area was mainly rural territory until the 1920’s when developers began building a resort community.

The allure of Gerritsen Beach for many multi-generational families is living amongst friends and the security of knowing your neighbors. While close to Marine Park and Sheepshead Bay, the neighborhood has a private beach which offers easy access to boating and parkland.

Neighborhood stores and commercial activity can be found along Gerritsen Avenue. Another interesting fact, the neighborhood is home to the only remaining volunteer fire department in Brooklyn and is one of nine that exist in NYC.

Benson

Bensonhurst

Tucked between a multitude of neighborhoods on the southwestern side of Brooklyn, Bensonhurst was an area comprised of farmland back in the 1800’s. Originally owned by the Polhemus family, a landowning clan, they sold their acreage to the Benson family, descendants from some of America’s earliest Dutch settlers.

In 1889, a developer by the name of James Lynch bought the Benson family’s land; his plan was to turn the area into an exclusive resort, complete with a steam rail and trolley access. The Benson family agreed to the sale under one condition; that it would be known by their surname. For a brief time the neighborhood was referred to as Bensonhurst-by-the-Sea but over time it was eventually shortened.

Today, two main thoroughfares run through this popular neighborhood. Whether walking or driving along 18th Avenue you’ll find the streets lined with predominantly small, family-owned businesses; plus it is home to the popular 18th Avenue Feast which takes place yearly in late August/early September. There is also the ever popular 86th Street, filled with a slew of stores and restaurants. On the second Sunday after Memorial the annual 86th Street Festival is held and there you’ll find the streets lined with live music, food, carnival rides.

Carroll Gardens

Carroll Gardens

The residential area known as Carroll Gardens offers its residents a serene neighborhood filled with brownstone row houses, accompanied by beautiful front gardens. The area takes it name from Carroll Park which is a vital center of the community. The park, built in the late 1840’s, is comprised of playgrounds, walkways, and sitting areas that run between Court, Smith, Carroll, and President Streets.

Originally a private garden purchased by the city in 1853, it was named after Charles Carroll, a wealthy Maryland planter, who was also the first United States Senator for Maryland, and one of the signors of the Declaration of Independence.

You might be wondering why a man from Maryland had the honor of a NY neighborhood being named after him; Carroll led the 1st Maryland Regiment, a group of soldiers who were integral to the Battle of Brooklyn in August 1776. These brave men charged the enemy holed up at the Old Stone House at the Gowanus so Washington’s army would have time to escape. Their bravery changed the course of the Revolutionary War.

The gardens refer to the big gardens in the front yards of these beautiful homes. In 1846, a surveyor named Richard Butt planned gardens in front of the brownstone homes in the oldest section of the neighborhood when he developed it.

Originally considered to be a part of the Red Hook neighborhood, Carroll Gardens began to have its own identity in the 1960s.

A favorite area amongst many, the neighborhood is filled with local retailers, cafes, restaurants, and trendy bars, giving it a distinct and unique charm.

Greenpoint landing

Greenpoint

With views of the Manhattan skyline, Greenpoint is one of the more cozier and intimate areas of the borough even as they continue to grow in popularity amongst home buyers.

Originally an area of vast farmland, it was surrounded by blooming trees, beautiful meadows, fresh water creeks and briny marshes. European settlers originally referred to a small bluff of land jutting into the East River at what is now the westernmost end of Freeman Street as “Greenpoint” but eventually the name came to encompass the whole area.

Because it was once predominantly farmland, many of the farm owners family names, like  Meserole and Calyer, are still the street names of today.  It’s also been said that Brooklyn’s distinctive accent originates from Greenpoint.

The neighborhood is also home to McCarren Park which first opened in 1906 under the name Greenpoint Park and renamed two years later after State Senator Patrick H. McCarren. The park contains an outdoor pool, a recreational center, film and concerts in the summer months, and a greenmarket which is open for business on Saturdays. The neighborhood is also a popular filming location for TV and film.

Over the years the demand for housing has skyrocketed and many new developments have begun [although completion is a few years away], especially along the area’s waterfront, which along with the waterfront in Williamsburg, was rezoned in 2005 for increased residential projects.

In 2015, construction began on Greenpoint Landing, a project which includes ten residential towers, a public elementary and middle school, and 4 acres of parkland. While as of this past spring one building has opened, completion is expected to be before 2027.