Heloise 9.28

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Dear Heloise: Besides checking your batteries in your smoke alarms and your carbon monoxide devices, you also should pick up your handheld fire extinguisher and give it a vigorous shaking. This keeps the fire suppressant suspended so it's more effective and doesn't settle at the bottom. -- Neil G., Belgrade, Maine

Neil, some fire extinguishers don't have an expiration date stamped on them, but most manufacturers use a five- to 15-year recommendation for replacement of a fire extinguisher. You should check the pressure gauge monthly, and if you are in doubt, have a pro or someone at the fire station take a look at it. Make sure the nozzle or hose is not cracked. Is the handle wobbly? That's not good. Make sure the blocking pin on the handle is not missing, and keep the maintenance of your extinguisher up to date. You never know when it will be needed. -- Heloise

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