Today I want talk about how to organize, assess and maintain the essential gear you use all year long including, fire extinguishers, and tools like flashlights, smoke alarms, hammers, and wallets. We depend on these tools to work well yet we often take them for granted.
I recommend the following procedure to deal with the essential tools you depend on. Ask yourself the following questions about each item:
- Does it work as it should?
- Is it still safe to operate?
- Is it damaged in some way?
- Can it be repaired?
Then, sort the items into one of these categories: replace, fix, or maintain.
- If there is a tool that is broken beyond repair, replace it now. This way you won’t find out halfway through a home improvement project that you don’t have the tool you need.
- If repairs are possible, arrange to have them done. Mark a specific time and date on your calendar to repair it yourself or to take it to a repair shop.
- Perform routine maintenance on all other items to help keep them functioning well.
Below I’ve shared maintenance routines for may popular household items. January is a great time to perform each of these tasks.
Check the batteries. How old are they? Replace them if necessary. If you’re using alkaline batteries, consider switching to rechargeable lithium ion batteries, as alkaline batteries can leak. Perform some basic maintenance by cleaning the exterior, wiping the lens and finally applying some silicone grease to the threads. These simple steps will keep your flashlight shining brightly for years to come. Incidentally, my favorite flashlight is the Coast HP1 Focusing 190 Lumen LED.
Keeping simple hand tools clean and functional is easy: just wipe them down after use, and store them in a dry location. Thrown in a few silica gel packs for added protection.
Power tools should be stored in the plastic containers they ship in, while garden tools should be hung and not left on the floor, where moisture can invite rust.
Often the owner’s manual will list specific maintenance tips for each tool. You can also check online for maintenance advice.
The best thing you can do for a knife is keep it nice and sharp. A dull knife is actually more dangerous than a sharp one, as you’re more likely to push too hard with a dull blade, slip and cut yourself.
For sharpening, I use the AccuSharp 001, as several commercial fishermen I know swear by it.
Each January I replace the batteries in my home’s smoke alarms. I also give them a good cleaning with the vacuum cleaner remove any dust, cobwebs, etc. that may have accumulated.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) suggests you take the following steps to maintain a home fire extinguisher:
- Ensure accessibility. Store it where it’s visible and easy to access.
- Inspect the seals. Make sure that tamper and safety seals are intact.
- Check the pressure. If your fire extinguisher has a pressure gauge, be sure that the gauge’s needle indicates proper pressure. If the fire extinguisher has a test indicator, press it to make sure the pressure reading is within the correct range.
- Look for damage. Any visible signs of damage mean it’s time to replace the extinguisher.
- Document your inspection. Keep track of your extinguisher’s monthly checks and maintenance.
Leather wallets and bags
Certainly take the time to organize the big things this year, but not at the cost of the little things that we depend on day in and day out. A little time and attention at the start of the new year will keep your tools working all year long.