A fire extinguisher can save your home and even your life — but only if it’s the right fire extinguisher for the job, and it’s in good working order (that is, it’s not empty, and the powder inside hasn’t become packed down).

There are three main types of fire extinguishers: type A (for wood, paper and cloth fires), type B (for flammable liquid fires) and type C (for electrical fires). Some extinguishers are all three types in one. There’s also a new type of extinguisher meant for kitchen fires, known as the 711A standard. The spray it delivers isn’t as forceful as that of other types, so it isn’t as likely to spread grease and flames to the rest of your kitchen.

A fire extinguisher won’t be much help if it’s empty, old or broken, though. To make sure yours is worth the space it’s taking up (hint: fire extinguishers should be kept inside, ideally in the kitchen, where many first start), take these three simple steps:

1. Check it once a month. Look at the gauge on top: Green is full, red is empty.

2. Shake it once a month. (This advice applies to dry chemical fire extinguishers.) If the powder inside becomes compacted, it won’t spray out when you need it

3. Replace it every 5 to 10 years.

Sydney is a self-proclaimed social media addict and a recent grad of the University of Georgia with a B.A. in Journalism. She spent two summers in New York interning with Cosmopolitan.com and iVillage, where one of her articles garnered the most traffic on the site. In her free time, when she’s not pinning DIY projects or fostering golden retrievers, she looks forward to Christmas so she can add to her 25 days of baking blog. Her favorite safety tip: Don’t text and drive — no text is worth it!