No home should be without a fire extinguisher no matter the number of occupants, amount of cooking they do, and whether or not they smoke. Even with the most careful of homeowners, a fire can break out because of an electrical short, lightning strike, and the like. A fire extinguisher can often be your first line of defense in keeping that fire from spreading and also in protecting your home and all its occupants. Note a few things you need to know about fire extinguishers in the home so you know you have the right one and it's always ready for use.
When an extinguisher needs to be serviced
If you use your fire extinguisher even just a little bit, you need to have it serviced. Using it releases some pressure so that the next time you need it, there may not be enough pressure to create the stream of chemicals or foam needed to extinguish a blaze. Think of this as like your car tires; if you have one that's even a little bit flat, it needs servicing and inflating to be safe. Your extinguishers are the same; have them serviced even if you only put out a small cooking fire and even if the dial still reads as being pressurized.
How long a fire extinguisher is "good for"
The lifespan of your extinguisher depends on the quality if the extinguisher and if it's likely to leak chemicals or pressure over time. It also depends on how often you have it serviced and pressurized; if you neglect it for some time, it may lose pressure and the chemicals inside may break down early so that it's no longer operational. Note the manufacturer's recommendations as to how often it should be serviced, how often you should check its pressure, and how long the extinguisher should last. This will tell you when you need to consider getting a new one.
All fire extinguishers are not alike
Fire extinguishers have classifications to note what type of fire they address; a grease fire is different than an electrical fire, as an example. Some extinguishers have a classification of ABC, meaning they work on a wide variety of fires. However, you might want to choose an extinguisher that is best for certain areas of your home and the increased risk in those areas, meaning one that works on oils and flammable liquids for the garage and one that works on grease for the kitchen. This can ensure it will do its job properly in case of a fire in those areas.