Every home should have at least one fire extinguisher, located in the kitchen. Better still would be to put in fire extinguishers on each degree of a house and in every potentially hazardous area, such as (besides the kitchen) the garage, furnace room, and workshop.
Choose fire extinguishers by their size, course, and evaluation. "Size" refers to the burden of the fire-fighting chemical, or charge, a fire extinguisher comprises, and usually is roughly half the weight of the fire itself. For normal residential usage, extinguishers two and a half to five pounds in size usually are adequate; these weigh five to ten lbs.
"Class" refers to the types of fires that an extinguisher can put out. Class A extinguishers are for use only on ordinary combustible materials like wood, paper, and fabric. Generally, their charge is composed of carbonated water, which is inexpensive and adequate for the task but rather dangerous if used against dirt fires (the pressurized water can spread the burning grease) and electrical fires (the water stream and wetted surfaces can become electrified, providing a possibly fatal jolt). Class B extinguishers are for use on flammable liquids, including grease, oil, gas, and other compounds. Normally their charge consists of powdered sodium bicarbonate (baking soda).
Class C extinguishers are for electric fires. Most include dry ammonium phosphate. Some Class C extinguishers contain halon gas, but these are not made for residential use because of halon's adverse influence on the earth's ozone layer. Halon extinguishers are recommended to be used around expensive electronics such as televisions and computers; the gas blankets the flame, suffocating it, then evaporates without leaving chemical residue that may ruin the equipment. Another advantage of halon is it assembles to hard-to-reach areas and around obstacles, quenching fire in places other extinguishers cannot touch.
Many fire extinguishers include chemicals for putting out combination fires; in fact, extinguishers classed B:C as well as ARC are more broadly available for home use than extinguishers designed only for individual kinds of fires. All-purpose ARC extinguishers usually are the ideal option for any household locationnonetheless, B:C extinguishers put out grease fires more efficiently (their charge of sodium bicarbonate reacts with fats and cooking oil to form a moist foam which smothers the fire) and so should be the primary alternative in a kitchen.
"Rating" is a dimension of a flame extinguisher's effectiveness on a particular type of fire. The higher the rating, the more effective the extinguisher is contrary to the course of fire to which the score is assigned. Actually, the rating process is somewhat more complicated: evaluation numbers assigned to a Class A extinguisher indicate that the approximate gallons of water needed to match the extinguisher's capacity (by way of instance, a 1A rating indicates that the extinguisher works and approximately a gallon of water), while numbers assigned to Class B extinguishers indicate that the approximate square footage of fire that can be extinguished by an average nonprofessional user. Class C extinguishers carry no ratings.
For security on an entire floor of a house, purchase a comparatively large extinguisher; for instance, a model rated 3A:40B:C. These weigh about ten pounds and cost approximately $50. In a kitchen, choose a 5B:C unit; these weigh about three pounds and cost approximately $15. For increased kitchen protection, it is probably better to to buy two small extinguishers than just one larger version. Kitchen fires usually start small and are easily handled by a small extinguisher; smaller extinguishers are more manageable compared to bigger ones, especially in confined spaces; and, because a partially used extinguisher has to be recharged to prepare it for additional use or replaced, having multiple tiny extinguishers makes better sense.
A 5B:C extinguisher is also a fantastic choice for protecting a garage, where grease and petroleum fires are most likely. For workshops, utility rooms, and similar locations, acquire IA: lOB:C extinguishers. These, also, weighs about three pounds (some weigh up to five pounds) and cost around $15. In all cases, purchase just extinguishers listed by Underwriters Laboratories.
Mount fire extinguishers in plain sight on walls near doorways or other possible escape routes. Use mounting brackets made for the purpose; those attach with long screws to wall studs and allow extinguishers to be instantly removed. Rather than the plastic mounts that come with a lot of fire extinguishers, consider the sturdier marine brackets approved by the U.S. Coast Guard. The proper mounting height for extinguishers is between four and five feet above the ground, but bracket them as high as six feet if needed to keep them out of the reach of young children. Do not maintain fire extinguishers in cabinets or elsewhere out of sight; in a crisis they are very likely to be missed.
Purchase fire extinguishers that have pressure indicators that allow you to check the condition of the charge at a glance. Inspect the estimate once a month; have an extinguisher recharged where you bought it or through the local fire department if the judge suggests it's dropped pressure or after it's been used, even if just for a few seconds. Fire extinguishers that mustnot be recharged or have outlasted their rated life span, which is printed on the tag, must be replaced. In no case if you keep a fire extinguisher longer than ten decades, regardless of the manufacturer's claims. Unfortunately, recharging a smaller extinguisher often costs nearly as much as replacing it and might not revive the extinguisher to its original condition. Wasteful as it looks, it's normally better to replace most residential fire extinguishers rather than have them recharged. To do this, discharge the extinguisher (the contents are nontoxic) to a plastic or paper bag, then discard the bag along with the extinguisher from the trash. Aluminum extinguisher cylinders can be recycled.
Everybody in the household except young kids ought to practice using a fire extinguisher to learn the method if a fire breaks out. A fantastic way to do so is to spread a large sheet of plastic on the floor and use it as a test place (the contents of the majority of extinguishers will kill grass and blot pavement). To operate a fire extinguisher correctly, stand or kneel six to ten feet in the fire with your back to the closest exit. (If you can't get within six feet of a fire due to smoke or extreme heat, do not attempt to extinguish it ; evacuate the house and call the fire department.) Holding the extinguisher upright, pull the locking pin from the handle and aim the nozzle at the base of the flames. Then squeeze the grip and extinguish the fire by sweeping the nozzle from side to side to blanket the fire with retardant before the flames go out. Watch for flames to renew, and also be ready to spray again.
If you operate a fireplace or wood-burning stove, then keep on hand three or two oxygen-starving sticks, available at fireplace and woodstove dealers. In case of a chimney fire, then tossing the sticks to the flames will quickly quench a fire inside the chimney flue or stovepipe. Evacuate the home and call the fire department immediately in any circumstance.