As we go about our lives, we don’t often think about disasters that could happen at our property. For example, fires can be devastating and dangerous for us and our loved ones. Fires are a possibility in all homes, and we should do our best to try and prevent them or at least be prepared for them. Owning a proper fire extinguisher in your home is important, but you should know which type of extinguisher to purchase so that you can stop the spread of fire if needed.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (www.nfpa.org) you should have a fire extinguisher available on each floor of your home. They can help put out small fires, however you still need to have a working smoke detector and an established evacuation plan. Before attempting to put out a fire, you should always make sure that everyone has already evacuated the property and that the fire department has been called.
If you’d like to be able to put out small fires by yourself by using a fire extinguisher, you should educate yourself on how to properly use one as inexperience can cause you to get hurt. For example, you need to know which type of fire extinguisher can be used for a kitchen grease fire or for an electrical fire. You should never attempt to put out a fire on your own if you are unsure on how to do so. Always call emergency services so that they can put it out.
Different Types of Fire Extinguishers
Fire extinguishers come in different sizes. Usually, bigger ones are better but can be bulky and heavy to maneuver. They also differ in weight. This is due to the amount of chemicals it has inside. There are also fire extinguishers that are rechargeable and those that are disposable. Rechargeable ones have a metal valve while the disposable extinguishers have plastic ones. The rechargeable fire extinguishers cost more but they have a pressure gauge that shows the amount of chemical it has left and are less expensive than buying a new disposable one each time you need it.
Classes of Fires and Ratings
Household fire extinguishers can be labeled as A, B or C. The letters signify the types of fires they should be used for. Type A is used for combustibles such as paper, cloth, and wood. Type B is used for flammable liquids such as gasoline or cooking oil and type C is for live electricity. On the label, they also have numbers before the letters such as 3-A for example, which is the classification rating. This number shows how effective they are against the specific type of fire. The higher the number, the more effective it is. The C designation does not have a number. It means that the extinguisher’s chemicals won’t conduct electricity.
Choosing the Right Size Fire Extinguisher
Below are the different sizes of fire extinguishers available on the market today and their uses.
10 Pound Fire Extinguisher
This type of fire extinguisher should be used for your garage or home workshop. You should look for a rechargeable type of extinguisher with a hose so that it is easy to use.
5 Pound Fire Extinguisher
This type of extinguisher can be grabbed quickly and is best used for the kitchen and the laundry room. You should look for a rechargeable model with a hose so that it is easy to use.
2 Pound Fire Extinguisher
This type of extinguisher is best used for your car. You should look for a disposable model with mounting hardware so that it does not roll around in your trunk.
Stove Top Fire Extinguisher
This type of extinguisher should be mounted on your range hood above the stove. You should look for magnetic pressurized cans that have a design that allows them to pop open from the heat and spray sodium bicarbonate.
How to Use a Fire Extinguisher
You should learn how to use a fire extinguisher before you have an emergency. Some fire departments offer homeowner training classes and can teach you the proper use. Also, you should be aware that the best spot to keep fire extinguishers is near the room’s exit. This way you can put out a fire with your back to the door and escape in case it gets out of control.
Using the acronym PASS will help you remember how to use a fire extinguisher:
- P stands for pulling the extinguisher’s safety pin
- A stands for aiming the chemical at the source of the flame not at the flame themselves
- S stands for squeezing the trigger and holding it while keeping it upright
- S stands for sweeping the source of the flames until it runs dry
After you have used a fire extinguisher, whether it is empty or not, you need to get it refilled right away. This goes for an extinguisher whose gauge slips out of the green into the red zone. The cost of refilling is about $15 for a 5-pound A, B or C fire extinguisher if it has a metal valve. The extinguishers that have plastic valves are not refillable but are disposable and should be thrown out after each use.
Keep in mind that fire extinguishers can also lose pressure and they may not function well when you need them. If you forget to look at the gauge to check on it, you should consider getting an automatic gauge with batteries that can remind you with a sound that the pressure is almost out. There are also more elaborate systems that can be connected to a home security system and let you know when the pressure is out. Take both of those into consideration and choose the best option that works for you and your family.
If you have damage because of a recent fire and need fire restoration services, we are here to help. Our professionals at ServiceMaster All Care Restoration provide complete fire damage restoration services for homes and businesses in the Phoenix, AZ area.