Do You Need Fire Extinguisher at Home? Well, our homes are filled with invaluable possessions, precious memories, and the people we care most about. That’s why it’s important to have a plan in place and the appropriate tools to address a potential emergency.
Fire is one of the most life-threatening accidents in any home. Whether a tiny spark from a faulty electrical wiring or an out-of-control kitchen flame, the scale of destruction that fires cause can be overwhelming.
Every year, many homes are affected by fires, causing huge losses. And while it’s crucial to ensure you have smoke alarms installed in key areas around your house, you also need a fire extinguisher at home to deal with a potential emergency.
Fire extinguishers are the first line of defense in case of a fire. If positioned strategically, these life-saving tools let you react swiftly to suppress a fire before it gets out of control. With various areas at home posing specific fire risks, you need more than one fire extinguisher in your house.
Here, we’ll walk you through the basics of fire extinguishers and other related topics. Read on!
What Is Fire Extinguisher?
A fire extinguisher is a handheld fire protection device that discharges a jet of water, gas, foam, or other material to extinguish or control small fires in emergencies.
It typically consists of a pressurized container filled with a fire-extinguishing agent and is outfitted with a nozzle or hose for directing the substance onto the fire.
Here are a few reasons why a fire extinguisher is a vital tool for any home:
- Swift Action: A fire extinguisher allows for a proactive response in the early stages of a fire when it’s still manageable. This device prevents the fire from escalating. Small fires might seem harmless at first, but they can increase in seconds, making timely intervention necessary.
- Protecting Lives and Property: Fires don’t wait. They can spread quickly, endangering lives and property. A fire extinguisher is a frontline defense, protecting occupants and keeping the fire from engulfing the entire space. Having a fire extinguisher during an emergency means responding swiftly, thus saving lives and minimizing the emotional and financial toll of a significant fire incident.
- Versatility: Fire extinguishers come in different types designed to combat various types of fires, like those caused by flammable liquids or ordinary combustibles. For example, water can exacerbate a grease fire, whereas a dry chemical extinguisher can smother it effectively.
- Peace of Mind: Owning a fire extinguisher isn’t just about being ready for the worst; it’s about actively contributing to your home’s safety. Beyond the physical tool, a fire extinguisher instills confidence, creating a mental space where you can trust that you have the means to deal with fire emergencies.
- Compliance: Depending on where you live, there might be building codes or safety regulations mandating the presence of fire extinguishers in residential properties. So, by having a fire extinguisher, you comply with such regulations, creating a safer living environment.
Remember, having a fire extinguisher isn’t enough; regular maintenance, checks, and knowing how to use it appropriately are equally important. Educate yourself and your family on fire safety measures to enhance the effectiveness of owning a fire extinguisher.
What Type of Fire Extinguisher Is Best for the Home?
Even if you’ve taken measures to make your home fire-resistant, it’s important to have certain gear at home in case of a fire, including the correct type of fire extinguisher. For ease of use and maximum overall effectiveness, the most suitable fire extinguisher for an average home is one labeled 3-A, 40-B, or C.
You might need help understanding what these numbers mean, but after familiarizing yourself with fire extinguisher classifications, you’ll find them easy to understand.
The best fire extinguisher for the home is one that can extinguish wood, grease, oil, and electrical fires. It should also be lightweight enough for anyone to operate with ease.
- Fire Extinguisher Classifications
When buying a fire extinguisher, you’ll see some rating symbols that refer to the extinguisher’s class, size, or capacity. The class of fire extinguishers shows the type of fire it is meant to put out.
The label also provides crucial information about the amount of extinguishing material in the fire extinguisher and the maximum size of fire the device can handle.
The numbers preceding the “A” specify the amount of material as a multiple of 1.25 gallons of water, whereas the numbers before the “B” specify the effective coverage area in square feet.
Usually, there’s no numeric value before the “C” because that classification implies that the extinguishing material won’t conduct electricity.
For instance, a fire extinguisher that bears the designation 3-A; 40-B; C means that the tank has non-conducting extinguishing material equivalent to 3.75 gallons of water, which can cover 40 square feet.
A smaller device more appropriate for automotive use would be rated 1-B; C. It’s not a Class A fire extinguisher because paper fires are unlikely to happen in a car.
If you want a fire extinguisher for your garage, choose one rated for larger fires. The rating should be 4-A; 80-B; C, because wood fires can occur in a garage.
This rating means the extinguisher has a power of 5 gallons of water and covers a maximum area of 80 square feet. This type of extinguisher is slightly heavier and more difficult to handle than the model you should have in your house.
Here are the different classes of fire extinguishers:
- A. Class A fire extinguishers can put out common combustibles such as wood, cloth, paper, plastic, and trash.
- B. Class B extinguishers can put out flammable liquids, such as gasoline, oil, and kerosene (but not cooking oil).
- C. Class C fire extinguishers can extinguish fires on energized electrical equipment, like appliances or wiring.
- K. Class K fire extinguishers are suitable for putting out cooking-related fires involving cooking oils. Kitchen fires should never be fought with water. To combat a small grease fire in a frying pan, switch off the heat and use a metal lid to cover the pan or throw a reasonable amount of baking soda all over it. If you often cook with large amounts of cooking oil, buy a “wet chemical” fire extinguisher rated for grease fires. This type can also handle some Class A fires.
Note: All fire extinguishers are only intended to deal with fires in the “incipient stage,” a term used by the fire department to describe a fire that’s “just getting started.” If the fire reaches a height equal to yours, leave the area immediately and call the fire department to put out the fire.
Having multiple fire extinguishers at home is always good, but if you only have one, you need something with good capacity and small enough for easy handling and storage. Choose a Class ABC fire extinguisher for your home.
This general-purpose fire extinguisher weighs about 9 pounds and measures 18 inches tall. It often comes with a mounting bracket for hanging inside a cabinet or on a wall.
Having at least one heavy-duty, general-purpose fire extinguisher in the home is advisable. If you need more extinguishers, choose a different type or size for particular areas.
- What Is In a Fire Extinguisher?
Water effectively extinguishes wood fires, and some Class A fire extinguishers contain water. However, its efficacy diminishes when confronted with Class B and C fires, and, in fact, water can exacerbate the intensity of such fires.
Home-use fire extinguishers typically feature pressurized carbon dioxide gas or a chemical, like potassium bicarbonate, that emits CO2 in contact with the air or the propellant in the cylinder. Some extinguishers contain a class of chemicals known as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).
If your fire extinguisher has served you for over 20 years, it might have a halon gas. Much like chlorofluorocarbons, halons have been banned due to their damage to the Earth’s ozone layer.
It would help to replace aged fire extinguishers with more contemporary models to ensure safety and environmental responsibility.
- Fire Extinguisher Inspection Checklist
Fire extinguishers have a limited lifespan, yet there’s a common misconception that they last indefinitely. Often, people buy a new one, tuck it away in a closet, and let it slip from their minds.
That’s a recipe for disaster. A fire extinguisher lasts 15 years and should be replaced once the specified service life on the label elapses.
While fire extinguishers don’t demand extensive maintenance, regular inspections are necessary. Here’s a list of things to check:
- Location: Is your fire extinguisher readily accessible? If not, find a suitable place for it, be it in a cabinet, closet, or corner of the room.
- Pressure: Does the fire extinguisher have the correct pressure? Some models incorporate a gauge that lets you check whether the pressure is within the manufacturer’s recommended range as indicated on the label.
- Damage: Thoroughly examine any physical damage to the fire extinguisher. Check the cylinder for signs of rust, the trigger for dents, and the hose for kinks. If you discover any damage, replace the fire extinguisher.
- Cleanliness: Over time, fire extinguishers accumulate greases and oils from the surrounding air, especially if stored in the kitchen. These contaminants can make the device difficult to handle. To maintain optimal performance, clean off these residues using soap and water.
When you want to use a fire extinguisher, it’s essential to examine the label to ensure it is rated for the type of fire you’re dealing with. Using an inappropriate fire extinguisher can make the fire worse.
If you are unsure about examining the extinguisher, contact a professional to inspect your unit. They should inform you if you need a new device.
Remember, fire safety involves more than just owning a fire extinguisher. Make sure you have working smoke alarms and an emergency plan in place.
- Using a Fire Extinguisher
Though there are various types of fire extinguishers, they all share a similar working mechanism, and there’s a simple anagram for their use. So if you notice a small fire, grab the appropriate extinguisher and think P.A.S.S. “Pull, Aim, Squeeze, Sweep.”
Pull the pin, often connected to a plastic or metal ring, put in place to avoid mistakenly squeezing the lever. Exercise caution when pulling the pin to avoid pressing the lever, as doing so would rapture the canister’s seal, initiating decompression.
Direct the nozzle or hose toward the base of the fire. This is vital as merely blasting the flames won’t stop the source of the fire. Maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from the fire (fire extinguishers have a range of 6-20 feet distance for spray, so verify your unit’s specifications for accuracy).
Depress the lever to discharge the extinguishing agent. An average extinguisher provides around 10 seconds of spraying time, so you should be precise and fast.
Move the hose or nozzle sweepingly from side to side until the fire is extinguished. Close in on the fire as it diminishes, attentively watching for re-ignition. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, meaning any smoke indicates the fire isn’t fully out yet.
A reliable indicator that the fire is out is when the area is cool to the touch. Proceed carefully, holding out your hand to feel for heat before touching charred surfaces.
If you’ve utilized your extinguisher, you can refill or recharge it. Contact your local fire department or the manufacturer to see if it’s possible and where to go.
If refilling is not an option, let your extinguisher sit for a few days to fully depressurize before disposing of it in your trash. Alternatively, contact your fire department for info on recycling it. If necessary, consider acquiring a new extinguisher without delay.
Regularly inspect your fire extinguisher to ensure the pin is in place and the pressure gauge reads between 100 and 175 psi. If that’s not the case, replace the unit or contact your local fire department to confirm whether they can recharge it or recommend where.
Never leave an empty extinguisher in your home. There’s a risk of forgetting it’s empty, and it might sit for years until another fire occurs, only to realize that you can’t use it to put out the flames.
Now, armed with this comprehensive knowledge of fire extinguisher use, you’re well-prepared to deal with any small fire.
Where Do You Put Fire Extinguisher at Home?
Preparedness is a crucial aspect of fire safety. Familiarize yourself with the strategic locations to store fire extinguishers for easy access.
The Red Cross highlights that the kitchen is the most probable area for fires to originate in a home. With flammable oils, high heat, and electrical appliances constantly in use, it shouldn’t really come as a surprise. Even minor mistakes, like a dishcloth placed too close to a burner, can quickly escalate to an inferno.
This underscores the importance of having a fire extinguisher within easy reach. Swift reaction and putting out the blaze before it grows can prevent a small accident from becoming life-threatening.
Your garage isn’t merely a parking space; it often serves multiple functions, including a storage area, workshop, or tool shed. For this reason, it tends to be full of flammable materials such as gasoline, paint, and other chemicals considered fire hazards.
A small spark can ignite these substances, making your garage a high-risk zone for fire incidents. Equipping the space with a fire extinguisher featuring an aluminum bottle enhances maneuverability and can be the decisive factor between a small accident and a significant catastrophe.
- Living Room
The living room, often designated as a family gathering space, is adorned with electronics, comfy furniture, soft rugs, and sometimes a fireplace.
While these items contribute to a comfortable living space, they pose a significant risk because of their combustibility. A single spark from a fireplace can quickly ignite a rug, and a malfunctioning wiring in an electronic device may suddenly ignite. Having a living room fire extinguisher is a smart choice to prevent potential risks.
- Laundry Room
Laundry rooms are frequently underestimated in terms of fire safety, yet they carry a significant threat. The intense heat produced by dryers, combined with the potential for lint build-up, can create a hazardous scenario.
Washer motors may overheat, and electrical outlets may short, causing a fire. Having a robust extinguisher in the laundry room is handy for preventing a laundry fire from spreading.
Ensuring the safety of our loved ones while we sleep is of utmost importance, so having a fire extinguisher in the sleeping area is a wise decision.
Candles can tip over, and devices can overheat when charging, or defective wiring can spark a flame. Whether the fire originates in the bedroom or elsewhere in your house, it’s good to be prepared to put out the blaze when the smoke alarms activate.
Every year, many homes are affected by fires, resulting in immeasurable loss and devastation. To curb losses from fires, you should arm your home with all fire preventive and fighting equipment, and this takes us back to the question…
Do You Need Fire Extinguisher at Home?
Yes, having a fire extinguisher at home is highly recommended for safety. A fire extinguisher is crucial for combating small fires before they escalate and become unmanageable.
Consider placing fire extinguishers in strategic locations like the kitchen, bedroom, laundry room, and so on. Also, ensure you have the correct type of fire extinguisher for your home.