Fire extinguishers, recalled products and lots more

Look around your house, and you’ll see things you never even realized have a shelf-life — and I don’t mean things like food that have a best-by date.

Take fire extinguishers. Over time, they can lose pressure. Those and smoke detectors should be replaced every 10 years or so.

Bike helmets only last about five years. After that, they start degrading. Ladies, toss your mascara after a few months or pink-eye-causing bacteria can grow. Oh, and bleach gets 20% less effective each year.

We haven’t even gotten to the tech! Some gadgets are security and safety risks, too. Scan this list to make sure you and your family are safe.

1. Old phones sitting in a drawer can start a fire

YouTuber Arun Maini, who runs a popular channel called Mrwhosetheboss, has collected every Samsung flagship phone since 2010. He noticed a scary pattern. The phone’s batteries are swelling enough to crack the glass and split the cases.

It’s not just Samsung phones. Any gadget with a lithium-ion battery is susceptible to damage over time. A swollen battery is a serious issue that can lead to fires, injuries, and property damage.

Rummage through your drawers for your old phones, and look for any signs of battery swelling. If you see it, here’s what to do:

  • Don’t try to charge a swollen phone. Charging a swollen battery can trigger a fire or explosion.
  • If you have an older phone with an easily removable battery, carefully separate the battery from the case. If you have a newer phone, don’t attempt to remove the battery yourself.
  • Put the swollen phone in a fireproof bag and contact the manufacturer. You may not be able to exchange an old model or get anything for it. However, at the very least, arrange for it to be recycled or disposed of properly.

When it comes to storing old phones, follow these rules of thumb:

  • Turn off the phone and put it in a cool, moisture-free place.
  • Charge the battery to 50% if you plan on storing it for a long time. Check the battery every six months or so and charge it halfway.

Maintenance can go a long way in getting more years out of your phone. Tap or click for my simple guide to properly clean your iPhone or Android inside and out.

2. Outdated routers let hackers in

Your router has a big job: Connecting all your devices to the internet. If you’re using a years-old model, it might not be doing that task safely.

The latest security standard is WPA3, released in 2018. If your router is not WPA3 compatible, WPA2-PSK AES is the next most secure option. It’s a sign you need to get a new router.

When buying a new router, there are three essential factors. Consider your home’s square footage and layout, the number of internet-connected devices you have and your internet speed. But with so many options, it can be tricky to choose the right router.

Time and Money Saver: Whether you need to cover an apartment or a mansion using a mesh system, we have your back. Answer a few questions, and we’ll pick the best router for you. Take the 60-second quiz here for our handpicked recommendations. 

3. There are no more updates

Where there’s an internet connection, there’s potential for hackers to wreak havoc. Security updates keep you safe from cybercriminals’ latest tricks, so it’s vital to keep your smartphone, computer and all the rest up to date.

What happens when your gear no longer receives updates? It’s time to upgrade. This is obvious with your phone and computer, but the same holds true for smart speakers, security cams, and anything else using your home network.

Here are a few more ways to keep yourself protected:

4. It’s on a recall list

It’s not just old devices you need to worry about. Some products make it into our homes with issues that can cause fires, injury, and worse.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission regularly warns about dangerous products and gives you steps to take if you have a recalled item in your home.

It’s worth scanning their list periodically to see if you own anything endangering your family. Sometimes, you can get a replacement or refund for the recalled product. You’ll find instructions on how to contact the manufacturer there, too.

5. Old power strips showing wear and tear

Outlet extenders and extension cords pull a lot of duty around our homes. Sometimes a power strip will short and shut off your devices. When this happens, even for a few seconds, inspect the power strip for signs of damage. Look for signs of singe around the outlets. These will appear as rust-colored marks that you can wipe off with your fingers.

Even without obvious signs of damage, old power strips can be dangerous. If you have no idea the last time you replaced yours, add it to your shopping list.

There are many things you should never plug into an extender. Tap or click here for 10 dangerous mistakes you might be making.

We may receive a commission when you buy through our links, but our reporting and recommendations are always independent and objective

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