Paul Stonkus' Blog
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.
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.
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.
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.