You always know when your smoke detector's battery is running low (hello middle-of-the-night-beeping, we didn't miss you), but if you've never needed to use it, your fire extinguisher could languish for years under your sink. Did you know a fire extinguisher can expire? Here's what you need to know to make sure yours is ready for anything.
First things first, make sure your extinguisher is easily accessible at all times. Pull it out once a month and check these things:
• The look — there should be no dents or damage to the body and hose should be in good shape.
• The nozzle — The pin should be intact and the nozzle should be clean and dry.
• The pressure gauge — the needle should be in the green range. If it's not, get it serviced right away.
• The contents— The fire retardant chemicals inside can settle to the bottom if your extinguisher is left in one position for too long so distribute them again by flipping it over every so often.
Depending on your model, an extinguisher should last between 5 and 15 years (check yours for more details). If you can't remember how old it is or you suspect it's time for a refresh, any hardware or big box store should be able to service your extinguisher and get it ready to go.
Just in case, here's how to use a fire extinguisher.