While it may seem like some expiration dates are arbitrary at best, it’s widely acknowledged that the food industry does a pretty good job determining the shelf life of perishable items. But trying to figure out how long other household items are good for can sometimes be a head-scratching experience.

You might be surprised to learn that the everyday items listed below even have limited effective lifespans.  And, if you’re not careful, you could be putting yourself and your loved one’s in harm’s way.

Fire Extinguishers – While they can last anywhere from 5-15 years, they do need to be routinely maintained, and replaced early if necessary. If your fire extinguisher’s pressure gauge indicates red, it’s time for a new one. Even if the gauge indicates that the pressure is OK, rotate and shake the extinguisher. If you can’t hear anything moving inside the canister, it could mean that the chemicals have solidified, which renders it useless.


Car Seats and Boosters – Protecting our youngsters from harm is paramount to all parents, but even car seats have expiration dates. Extreme temperature changes can cause the seat’s materials to expand and contract and eventually reduce its level of protection. Check the back, side or bottom of the car seat for the expiration date. If you can’t find one, contact the manufacturer.

Bike Helmets – Like car seats, bike helmets also are made of materials that contract and expand with changes in temps; over time, the protective materials lose their effectiveness. Replace bike helmets every 3-5 years, or after they’ve been damaged.

Paint – It’s common to hang onto old paint in case a room or space needs a little touch up. But after about 4 years, opened cans of paint lose their effectiveness and should be disposed of properly. Unopened cans of oil-based paint can last up to 15 years, while unopened cans of latex paint last about 10, assuming they are stored in a cool, dry area that is not impacted by extreme temperature changes.

Sunscreen – It’s recommended that you replace your sunscreen every year for optimum protection from the sun’s harmful rays. However, most sunscreens can last up to 3 years. Anything older makes you vulnerable to a painful sunburn.

Gas – Fuel in gas-powered tools should be removed before storing the machinery for a long period of time. Gasoline stored in containers can be used for up to 2 years, while diesel fuel should only be stored for about 6 months.

You know what else has an expiration date…sort of? Your heating and cooling systems. While their average lifespan is 12-15 years, they can call it quits much earlier if not properly maintained.  So, if it’s time for annual preventive maintenance, it’s time to contact Burton for that or any other home heating or cooling need.