Choosing a Fire Extinguisher for Your Home
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), someone in the United States dies in a house fire every three hours, averaging approximately 3,000 deaths each year. Arm yourself with the right equipment to help prevent a small, self-contained fire from spreading out of control. Here we’ll give you some tips on how to choose them – and how to use them.
Below are minimum recommendations for the home from the National Fire Protection Association.
Choose primary extinguishers for your home. This includes solutions for your living area, garage or workshop, and they’re pieces of equipment that you absolutely must have, according to the NFPA.
Living area – For your main home protection, install a 2-A: 10-B:C rated living area unit on every level of your home, no more than 40 feet apart. Class A-B-C.
Garage/Workshop – Due to volumes of flammable liquids in the garage, you should install a higher rated unit such as the 3-A:40B-C Garage/Workshop unit. Class A-B-C.
Choose supplementary extinguishers for your kitchen and areas with a higher likelihood of electrical equipment fires. These are not required, but are highly recommended.
Kitchen – The kitchen is the likeliest place you will have a fire. Protect your home with a 711A extinguisher in the kitchen area.
Electrical – Ideal for tackling fires involving energized electrical equipment with a rating of 1-A: 10-B:C. Class B-C.
A quick note on kitchen fire extinguishers: The majority of house fires start in the kitchen. But with the right fire extinguisher on hand they could end there, too.
How to use fire extinguishers
Stand 5 feet away from the fire and follow the four-step PASS procedure recommended by the National Fire Protection Association:
P - Pull the pin and hold the extinguisher with the nozzle pointing away from you.
A - Aim low at the base of the fire.
S - Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly to discharge the extinguishing agent. (When the agent first hits the fire, the fire may briefly flare up. This should be expected.
S - Sweep the nozzle from side to side, moving carefully toward the fire. Keep the extinguisher aimed at the base of the fire.
When to use fire extinguishers
It’s important to remember that fire extinguishers are only one element of a complete fire survival plan. Only use your extinguisher after making sure:
All residents of the home have been evacuated to safety
The fire department has been notified
There is a clear exit behind the person using the extinguisher
Use your extinguisher only to keep a small self-contained fire from growing, only when the room is not filled with smoke, or to create a safe pathway out of the home. Be sure to read the instructions and become familiar with your fire extinguisher's parts and operation before a fire breaks out.
NFPA believes that children should not be trained how to operate portable fire extinguishers. Teaching children to use portable fire extinguishers runs counter to NFPA messaging to get out and stay out if there is a fire. Furthermore, children may not have the maturity to operate a portable fire extinguisher properly or decide whether or not a fire is small enough to be put out by the extinguisher. They may not have the physical ability to handle the extinguisher or dexterity to perform the complex actions required to put out a fire. In the process of extinguishing flames, children may not know how to respond if the fire spreads. NFPA continues to believe that only adults who know how to operate portable fire extinguishers should use them.
Is My Fire Extinguisher Good?
Rechargeable fire extinguishers
According to National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards, rechargeable fire extinguishers must be recharged every 10 years.
A rechargeable fire extinguisher has a metal head, and a gauge that reads Charge / Recharge. Check your fire extinguishers gauge monthly to verify that your fire extinguisher is still charged. If the extinguisher’s gauge needle is in the Recharge area, have your fire extinguisher recharged immediately.
Disposable fire extinguishers
According to National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards, disposable fire extinguishers must be replaced every 12 years.
A disposable fire extinguisher has a plastic head, and a gauge that reads Full / Empty. Check your fire extinguishers gauge monthly to verify that your fire extinguisher is still full. If the extinguisher’s gauge needle is in the EMPTY area, replace your fire extinguisher immediately.
ALWAYS FOLLOW MANUFACTURERS RECOMMENDATIONS!