Apartments in the Seattle area are a booming business for property owners and management companies. The demand is high, and it is a leasers market. Regardless of the power garnered by apartment owners, one thing needs to be at the top of their priority: safety.
Recently, one of my clients – “Kay” – suffered serious burns because of the failure to recognize the dangers associated with uninsulated water pipes.
It is an older apartment building; pipes carried boiling water upward in the building for heat.
The uninsulated pipes in Kay’s apartment were recorded at 236 degrees Fahrenheit.
Kay had asked for the apartment’s management company to address the danger created by the uninsulated pipes.
Her requests went unanswered.
Kay was stuck in a lease, so she just made it a point to be extra careful around the dangerously hot pipes in her apartment.
But Kay has a seizure disorder. One evening, she had a seizure which caused her to fall and lean up against the exposed hot water pipes.
Those boiling-hot pipes seared Kay’s skin, leaving very serious burns across her back.
Treatment of any serious burn is a painful process.
Debridement is painful and skin grafts cause prolonged healing. When the skin finally heals, it is still scarred, tight, and unable to sweat.
Throughout my career, I have handled many burn cases. I can share that for my clients, suffering serious burns, undergoing the treatment process and prolonged healing causes both physical and emotional pain that is hard to measure.
People with serious burn injuries almost always have some disfigurement and disability.
What happened to Kay was easily preventable. The apartment owner and/or management company could have easily insulated the building’s hot water pipes.
They did so in short order after Kay was burned.
Part of the reason that property owners and managers get away with putting renters in danger is that people don’t have many options. Seattle is a difficult, crowded rental market: if you don’t want to rent an apartment with boiling hot exposed pipes, someone else will.
Why does someone have to get hurt before companies will take safety threats seriously?
In this case, it was Kay. Next time, it could be someone you know.
Safety of our whole community has to be the utmost goal, for all of us.
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