I came across a great article that talked about when it is time to change things in your life and in your home. I recently helped my parents move from their house of 15 years to a new home. As I was helping them pack I took time to go through the items to make sure they were not moving things that ultimately needed to be replaced. I know as a result of this we ended up throwing out more than what my mother would have wanted to, but the goal was safety.
We all having things around out homes to help keep us safe and healthy, but what are the expiration dates, used by dates for some of these products?
- Sunscreen - unless you are going to be out in the sun every day during the summer I find it hard to use an entire bottle of sunscreen. I end up keeping the bottle and using it summer after summer - BUT is that the safe things to do? According to the CDC sunscreens are effective for 3 years after they were manufactured. Newer bottles have expiration dates on them, so check your bottle, if no expiration date - throw it out! Remember exposure to extreme temperatures can also shorten the shelf life of your sunscreen.
- Toothbrushes - we are to be going to the dentist every 6 months for dental cleaning, but how often should we be changing our toothbrushes? The American Dental Association recommends that we change out brushes every 3 to 4 months. If you chew on your tooth brush it is recommended that you change your brush more frequently, as damages to the bristles decrease the brush's effectiveness. Maybe the next time you go to the dentist for your dental cleaning you should ask them for 2 tooth brushes instead of just one.
- Medications - over the counter medications do have a shelf life. How long can you keep that bottle of Aspirin or cough syrup started taking when you had a cold? Medications and supplements should have expiration dates on them. According to Mayo Clinic drugs being slowly deteriorating from the moment that they are produced. If you have medications that are expired, what do you do with the pills? Please Please do NOT flush them down the toilet, rather check with your local pharmacists to see if they accept expired medications, which they will dispose of in an appropriate manner.
- Fire extinguishers - I just recently bought two fire extinguishers for my house. Fire extinguishers are useful in case of a fire, but how long do they last for? At our works the fire extinguishers get check yearly, but when was the last time you looked at your fire extinguisher? Most household extinguishers have a shelf life of 3 to 12 years, they are onetime use. Your extinguisher might have a meter on it which will indicate if the extinguisher has the right amount of pressure. If you are not sure about the age of your extinguisher, call up your local fire department and see if you can take it to them to have them inspect the unit. Not only is it important to make sure you extinguisher is in working order, but it is just as important to make sure everyone in the house knows where the extinguisher is kept.
- Bike helmets - are used to protect our kids and ourselves when we are out for a ride, BUT is your helmet going to protect you if you fall. It is important to examine your helmet before you go out for every bike ride. If there are any dents or cracks in the foam be sure to get a new helmet. According to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute your helmet should be replaced every 5 years and after any accidents where the helmet hits the ground. Just as important is making sure that you get a helmet that fits properly on your head or your child's head and that you wear it each and every time correctly.
- Smoke detectors - when was the last time you checked your smoke detectors battery? A helpful hint is "change your clock, change your battery."Smoke detector units themselves should be replaced every 10years according to the National Fire Protection Agency.
- Furnace filters - the filters on our furnaces help to clean the air by filtering the dust, pollen and particles out of the air. Since all furnaces are different it is important to check the manufactures recommended changing schedule. If you have pets or smoke consider changing your filter more often as the pet hair and smoke can clog the filter faster. Or if a family member suffers with lung issues change the filter frequently.
Take a few minutes to check the items in your home, to protect yourself and your family members.
Reference: Family Safety & Health, National Safety Councel, Summer 2009 - Vol 68, No2.