Don’t wait until the something in your home or apartment is smoking or on fire to wonder about fire extinguishers. Here’s what you need to know.
Do I need a fire extinguisher?
Short answer: Yes.
Have at least one, although its recommend to have a fire extinguisher on each floor. Place yours near an exit, in an easy-to-grab spot. A fire extinguisher can make a big difference in an emergency, but it can’t replace your most important safety tools: working smoke alarms and a fire escape plan.
What if I rent?
If you rent, your landlord is responsible for providing smoke detectors in each unit – but not necessarily fire extinguishers. Fire extinguishers typically run from $20 to $70, depending on the type.
Are There Different Types of Fire Extinguishers?
Not all fires are the same, and neither are fire extinguishers. The letters A, B and C on the label refer to the types of fire the extinguisher is capable of putting out.
- Class A extinguishers are effective on fires in paper, wood, textiles and plastics. (Think “A” for “ash.”)
- Class B extinguishers are effective on liquid fires, like those involving cooking oil, paint, gasoline or kerosene. (Think “B” for “barrel.”)
- Class C extinguishers are effective on electrical fires and live wiring. (Think “C” for “current.”)
The best choice for your home is a multi-purpose extinguisher like ABC, which can be used on all types. You can opt for a single-use or a rechargeable model. A rechargeable fire extinguisher is filled with either water or a powdered chemical—check your extinguisher’s label to see what to refill yours with.
Typically, fire extinguishers are sold in 2-pound, 5-pound or 10-pound canisters. Larger sizes pack more punch, but choose a size that you can lift easily.
How to use a fire extinguisher
First call 911 if there is any size fire in your home. Remember that fire spreads rapidly – even if you end up extinguishing the fire yourself, it’s a good idea to have the pros on the way to check your work.
If you do need to use your extinguisher, the National Fire Protection Association uses the handy acronym PASS:
- Pull the pin. Grab the extinguisher, point the nozzle away from you and release the locking mechanism.
- Aim low, pointing the extinguisher at the base of the fire.
- Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly.
- Sweep the nozzle from side to side.
Use your extinguisher on a small fire that’s not growing – for example, a fire contained in a wastebasket. When fighting the fire, keep your back to a clear exit so you can make an escape if you need to. If the room fills with smoke or the fire grows, leave immediately.
When to replace a fire extinguisher
Fire extinguishers don’t last forever. All models can lose pressure over time. Depending on the model, they last between 5 and 15 years – even if no expiration date is listed.
To make sure your fire extinguisher is in good working order, check the pressure gauge monthly. If it’s in the green, it’s functional. If it’s in the yellow or red, it will need refilled or serviced. Replace yours ASAP if you notice any of these things:
- The hose or nozzle is cracked, ripped, or jammed.
- The locking pin is unsealed or missing.
- The handle is missing or unsteady.
- The inspection sticker or service record is missing.
Talk to an insurance professional at Freedom Insurance Agency. We can help make sure your home has the right homeowners insurance in case a fire happens despite your best efforts to prevent one.
Freedom Insurance Agency