Recently I’ve needed to look into the possible replacement of one of my smoke alarms and of a fire extinguisher. I quickly found very helpful information on the proper disposal of both of these. I’m sharing what I found below. If you find yourself in the same situation as myself, please properly dispose of your smoke alarms and fire extinguishers.
Tips for Properly Disposing of Smoke Detectors
According to the U.S. EPA, both photoelectric and ionization smoke alarms contain plastic, electronic circuit boards and in some cases, batteries. When it comes time to dispose of your device, it’s important to know that ICSDs cannot be recycled, due to their radioactive content. For this reason, it is extremely important to properly dispose of the unit. Do this by:
1. Removing the battery and recycling it
2. Safely removing the plastic cover, and recycling it with your other plastic casing.
3. Sending it back to the manufacturer, who will properly dispose of it. The address of the supplier is usually listed in the product warranty or user’s manual.
4. Finding a drop off location or HHW event in your area if the manufacturer will not accept the unit.
Tips on the Disposal of Fire Extinguishers
You likely have two reasons for disposing of a fire extinguisher: it is too old or the contents have been discharged. Disposal options depend on whether or not the extinguisher is empty.
If it’s not empty:
1. Check the Pressure Gauge: Your extinguisher should have a gauge saying whether it is overcharged, if it’s at the correct pressure or in need of a recharge. This is your first clue as to whether the unit is operating correctly.
2. Call Your Fire Department: You might be able to exchange your extinguisher or get it recharged.
3. Take it to a Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) event: Extinguishers with contents remaining are considered hazardous, so find your nearest HHW collection event or program using Earth911.
If it’s empty:
1. Squeeze the Lever Above the Handle: This will ensure that all contents are discharged.
2. Remove the Head: This will let whoever disposes of the extinguisher know that all contents have been removed.
3. Recycle the Steel Body: Once the head is removed, your community should accept fire extinguishers with the rest of your ferrous metal.
In both cases, make sure to follow any instructions on the fire extinguisher. Once your old extinguisher is disposed, make sure you replace it with a new fire extinguisher immediately.