Home Safety Tips

by Gema Smith 06/09/2019

When it comes to home safety, three areas need to be on the radar for review at least twice a year. Some folks check them with the summer and winter solstice and others with the change to and from daylight savings time. But you might want to check these more often. Whatever the schedule, these three items need your regular attention.

Smoke Detector

Testing your emergency equipment is a no-brainer, but your smoke detector particularly should be tested often. FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, says to check them monthly and replace the batteries at least every six months. According to agency reports, sixty percent of home fire deaths happen in properties where the smoke alarm does not work. And thirty-eight percent of home fire deaths occur in properties where there is no smoke detector or smoke alarm at all. But, working smoke alarms reduce by half the risk of death by a house fire.

So, check your alarm every month, and more frequently if cooking smoke activates it since activation can make both the battery and the alarm wear out. Also, test the alarm and check the battery if the alarm chirps or gives false alarms. Always use fresh new batteries. Even if your system connects to your home’s electrical system, the backup batteries need checking since the risk of a house fire when the power is out or upon power restoration is high.

Fire Extinguisher

Along with smoke detectors, every house should have a fire extinguisher. You should keep one in the kitchen and any other area prone to fire, especially if you have a wood-burning fireplace or your barbecue is near to the home. But don’t just install it and forget about it. When fire extinguishers go unused for a long time, they may depressurize. Unless you check them, you won’t know until you need to use it.

Review your owner's manual. It should have a maintenance schedule. If it doesn’t have one, contact the manufacturer for one.

Along with the pressures, when checking it, be sure:

  • Check the pressure. Usually, an extinguisher has a gauge. Make sure the pressure indicator is in the safe zone.
  • Nothing blocks access. If you install in a cabinet, place it near the front. Better yet, mount it inside the door.
  • The pin and tamper seal must be intact. Make no corrosion appears on the tank, and the nozzle and hose are crack free.

You don’t want to learn that your extinguisher is inoperative during a fire emergency. Serviced or replaced your extinguisher every five to ten years.

Electrical Panel

Most people don't think about their electrical panel except during a power outage. Wires, breakers, and switches age and can fail when you need them most. Have a certified electrician test your panel at least every three years, and immediately if you have a breaker that continually needs resetting, have frequent power outages, see sparks or flames from a light switch or power outlet, or rely on your home power to operating medical or other critical equipment.

If you need assistance finding qualified specialists to check your safety equipment, contact your real estate professional today.

About the Author
Author

Gema Smith

Gema S. Smith has been an influential pioneer in the luxury real estate industry for over 30 years. With a reputation for providing first-class service and garnering impeccable results for her clients, Gema’s accomplishments have earned her mentions in San Jose Magazine as well as two State of California Senate Certificates of Recognition. 

Unapologetically persistent, tenacious in her negotiation and passionate about developing genuine trust with her clients, Gema brings her best-in-class service and award-winning approach to The Agency, with a focus on the high-end market of Silicon Valley. Previously, Gema served as a Broker Associate with Intero Real Estate Services in San Jose, where she was a consistent top producer and recognized as a Top Listing and Sales agent for the company’s 15 corporate offices. Knowing that every buyer and seller has their own unique story to tell, Gema is proud to play a role in her clients’ ongoing narrative and represent their best interests in what is often the biggest transaction of their lives. 

Gema has been an active member of the real estate community since 1987, getting her start in the loan business before obtaining her real estate and broker’s licenses. In 2002, she opened a real estate brokerage and loan company which she ran successfully until 2008, when she chose to focus her efforts on real estate sales full-time. Gema is a long-time member of the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors (SCCAOR) and California Association of Realtors (CAR), as well as a Certified REO & SHORT SALE Specialist with The Five Star Institute. She is also a two-time Santa Clara County Chapter President of NHORA (National Hispanic Organization of Real Estate Associates) and currently sits on the NHORA National Board of Directors. 

A passionate philanthropist, Gema sits on the Board of Directors for the Jose Valdes Math Institute. Her commitment and dedication to the advancement of educational opportunities to underserved communities defines her character. In her spare time, Gema enjoys gourmet cooking, entertaining family and friends, wine tasting, reading, jogging and traveling.