Milk, medicine, your car registration — we all know these things expire. But a closer look around your house and car reveals many potentially life-saving items also have expiration dates, and as Consumer Reports explains, you might not even know what they are.
Some expiration dates are easy to spot.
In the refrigerator, for example, and the medicine cabinet.
But others are not, like smoke alarms. They help protect you and your family, but only for 10 years.
“Sensors can degrade over time. So look at the manufacture date or the expiration date so you know when to replace it,” Consumer Reports Editor John Galeotafiore said.
The same goes for your fire extinguisher, which lasts about 12 years.
“That’s because over the years they can lose pressure. They can also have broken or missing parts. And they could also have corrosion,” Galeotafiore said.
After it expires, you can’t just throw the extinguisher in the trash.
Check your local fire department, recycling center, or hazardous waste disposal facility for information on how to properly discard it.
And you may be tempted to recycle a car seat or buy one used but keep in mind, they’re only good for six to 10 years to ensure the seats are current with the latest safety features and standards, and because the materials they’re made of break down over time which could make them less safe.
If yours is expired, check online for trade-in programs or see if your local recycling center accepts them.
Just like car seats, the components that make up bike helmets can deteriorate over time. Consumer Reports experts recommend you replace your bike helmet every five years.
And finally, if you like to stock up on sunscreen when it’s on sale, you’ve got about three years to use it.
“After three years, sunscreen starts to lose its sun protection powers,” said Consumer Reports Editor Trisha Calvo.
The good news is that an open sunscreen doesn’t expire any faster than an unopened one.
Consumer Reports also wants to remind you that any bike helmet that’s in a crash should be replaced. And any car seat that’s in a moderate or severe crash also needs to be replaced. You can check NHTSA.gov for details.
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