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Public Safety Considerations of the Tiny House Movement

Public Safety Considerations of the Tiny House Movement


By Allison G. S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest

In the past few years, public interest in the tiny house movement has gained momentum. More and more people are attracted to new architectural ideas about condensed living spaces.

Outside sheds as living spaces are a new trend, too. Many people are either erecting sheds or converting existing ones into efficiency-style units. While this concept is unusual and interesting, homeowners and public safety officials cannot overlook numerous safety issues.

A Space Heater in a Tiny House Is a Fire Hazard

The tiny house movement has led to creative and intriguing ways to design a dwelling the fraction of the size of a standard home. Designs for tiny houses include space-saving solutions like storage areas under stairwells and homes constructed from non-traditional materials, such as dumpsters and shipping containers.

Fire hazards are a key consideration in the construction of tiny homes. Appropriate ventilation is a must. Space heaters are often used to heat a tiny house until proper heating equipment is installed. Unfortunately, space heaters can cause fires, which could lead to fatalities. So the placement of space heaters needs to be carefully thought out.

In addition, designers of tiny homes must consider issues like carbon monoxide poisoning. If a homeowner wants a woodstove in his tiny home, it should have proper vents and carbon monoxide detectors. Carbon monoxide is odorless and deadly, so installing proper safety products can save lives.

Tiny Houses Will Also Require Retraining of First Responders

The advent of the tiny house movement requires first responders to rethink where they need to go when an emergency arises. For instance, emergency medical technicians, paramedics and firefighters looking for an ailing resident after a 911 call should be aware that sheds and other small structures in the backyard are now potential dwelling locations.

These alternate living areas might have been overlooked before tiny houses began appearing. But now, first responders will require new awareness training so they will know in advance that someone needing life-saving assistance might not be in a conventional location.

Emergency Managers and Public Safety Officials Must Stay Current with Trends

As society changes and new trends like tiny houses continually emerge, emergency managers and other public safety officials will need to know how to react to these new public safety hazards. Not only will they be better able to protect their communities, they will also be able to  develop and update emergency management plans.

American Military University


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