Following is a list of time-sensitive products that require regular replacement to maintain peak performance:
Smoke alarms—These potentially lifesaving devices have lives of their own and expire after about 10 years or 87,000 hours of service. Yet, a new study conducted by First Alert, a leading manufacturer of home safety products, recently uncovered that nearly a quarter of Americans (23 percent) have either never replaced the smoke alarms in their homes or have not done so in more than six years. Unprotected, these homes and their occupants are in danger of becoming among the 900 lives lost each year in U.S. home fires due to non-working smoke alarms as reported by the National Fire Protection Association.
Alarms should be tested every month and batteries replaced every six months for maximum security. If the alarms in your home are approaching the 10-year mark, or if you can’t recall when they were installed, be safe and replace them immediately.
Carbon monoxide alarms—According to the American Medical Association, carbon monoxide intake is the No. 1 cause of accidental poisoning in the U.S. Still, an alarming 25 percent of American homes are not equipped with any CO alarms and another 23 percent have CO alarms that have never been replaced, according to the recent First Alert study. The NFPA recommends installing CO alarms outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement. To ensure peak performance, replace batteries twice a year and check alarms monthly using the “test” function. When properly maintained, a CO alarm has a life of approximately five years, after which time it should be replaced with a new unit. Carbon monoxide is an especially dangerous threat because it attacks without warning and can be deadly. The value of CO alarms is so critical that more and more states and municipalities are passing laws that require homes to have CO alarms to protect residents from this silent killer.
Other products that require regular replacement include:
Fire extinguishers—Like their alarm counterparts, fire extinguishers need to be regularly checked to ensure that the pressure is at the recommended level and all parts are operable and not damaged. If an extinguisher is damaged in any way or needs to be recharged, it is best to replace the unit completely, advises the U.S. Fire Administration. Disposable models, like Tundra Fire Extinguishing Spray, come with expiration dates that inform owners when the unit should be replaced. Additionally, Tundra comes in a compact, familiar spray can design that is easy to operate and store.
Furnace filters—Not only do clean furnace filters help save on energy costs, but they also reduce the risk of fire. Just as full dryer screens can cause fires, so can dirty or clogged filters in the furnace. When replacing an old filter, note that many available products are disposable. But there are other products—such as electrostatic filters—that can be washed and reused time and again, generating even more savings if used
and cared for properly.
Kitchen sponges—WebMD cites that kitchen sponges are the No. 1 source of germs in the entire house. They achieve this rank because of their moist, micro-crevices which make great homes for germs to linger in. Many experts recommend replacing kitchen sponges once a week, and at the very least twice a month.
Toothbrushes—The American Dental Association recommends replacing toothbrushes every three to four months or sooner if bristles begin to fray. Researchers have found that toothbrushes can hold microorganisms from mouths and the environment that can cause oral and systemic infections.
Mascara—According to Consumer Reports, mascara should be replaced every three months because it is likely to begin growing bacteria after that time. It also should be replaced if it begins to smell, is discolored or is used around the time of an eye infection.
Additionally, consumers are advised to replace pillows, medication, hair brushes and sunscreen on a regular basis. Check product packaging for expiration dates and replacement guidelines.
For more information and a complete home safety checklist, go to http://www.firstalert.com/safety_checklist.php. For more home safety tips, visit http://www.mysafehome.org