Do you have a fire extinguisher in your home, ideally by the kitchen? If not, you should, as it’s something most people don’t think about until they are in need of one. And even if you have one, it’s no good to you if it’s not in working order.
This is why you need to inspect your home fire extinguisher regularly, to ensure it works when you need it most. Are you about to run out and buy a fire extinguisher? Keep reading first. Before you buy (and even use!) a fire extinguisher, you need to know what kind of fires it is made to put out. According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), fire extinguishers are made to fight five types of fires:
- Class A: Commonplace materials, like cloth, wood, or paper
- Class B: Flammable liquids
- Class C: Appliance or electrical
- Class D:Metals
- Class K: Cooking oils
Some extinguishers are multi-taskers, and can handle more than one type of blaze. They are marked as such; for instance “ABC” or “BC”. We can’t find any information on why it jumps from Class D to Class K—your guess is as good as ours!
Now, for the inspection part. The USFA recommends for fire extinguishers to be checked on a regular basis to ensure they are ready for use. This may be tough for some of you, but reading the instructions that came with the fire extinguisher is very important—reading them after a fire has started won’t help anyone.
Include the following steps in your inspection, says the USFA:
- Make sure that the fire extinguisher is easy to get to and retrieve.
- Check the pressure using the gauge that is found on most models, and it should tell you whether or not the pressure is adequate. It also could have a test indicator, and if so, go ahead and press it to confirm that the pressure reading is accurate.
- Check the can, hoses and nozzles for visible signs of damage or aging, like dents or rust. If you find these signs, then it may be time to replace the extinguisher.
- Clean the extinguisher, removing any dust, oil, or grease as necessary.
- How old is it? Most extinguishers only have a 5- to 15-year shelf life. Most extinguishers have a tag or label with an expiration date or last maintenance date.
Is a fire extinguisher part of your home safety plan? We may have had a rainy start to 2019, but that just means more fuel for fires later this year. And a fire could start in your kitchen at any time, even if there’s rain outside.
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