Fire safety should be at the forefront of any homeowner or business owner’s mind. There are a number of ways to ensure your home or business is protected against the risk of fire. One of the staples of fire safety is having a functioning fire extinguisher on hand in case of emergencies. Fire extinguishers are the first line of defense against sudden flames. They can be small and portable and are stored easily. Below is a guide to understanding, storing, and maintaining fire extinguishers in your home or business.
How does a fire extinguisher work?
There are several types of fire extinguishers: water, dry chemical, and carbon dioxide. Water extinguishers use water to cool fires down. Dry chemical extinguishers smother fires using either powder or foam. Carbon dioxide extinguishers remove both the heat and the oxygen from the fire. Always make sure to use the right type of extinguisher for the job. You would never want to use a water extinguisher on an electrical fire, as you could get electrocuted.
A fire extinguisher is comprised of a sturdy steel canister which stores highly pressurized propellants which, when released, spray the substance inside the extinguisher—be it water, dry chemicals, or CO2—over the flames. The handle of a fire extinguisher has a ring or a pin which needs to be pulled in order to use the extinguisher. Pressing the handle then releases the contents of the canister.
Where should I keep my fire extinguisher?
Make sure to keep a fire extinguisher on every level of your home or business. Running up or down the stairs in an emergency will waste time, so you’ll want to have one nearby. Place them strategically near fire hazards. The kitchen is the number-one room to keep a fire extinguisher, because it is the most at risk for starting a fire. You will likely not want to keep a water extinguisher in the kitchen, because the kitchen is prone to grease fires, with which water does not help. It is also a good idea to keep fire extinguishers near the dryer, which is another place where fires often start.
You’ll want to keep the fire extinguisher in obvious places which are easy to get to for everyone. Do not put the fire extinguisher in the back of your closet or up high where you may need to get a step-stool to get it. Keep in mind that you’ll want to keep the fire extinguisher far enough away from areas where fires start, because you don’t want to have to reach through flames to get the extinguisher. Find a place that is far enough away from the hazard but still easily accessible.
When should I replace my fire extinguisher?
Generally, you’ll want to replace fire extinguishers that a have visible damage. If the hose or nozzle has been compromised, the handle is broken, or the locking pin is unsealed or missing, you’ll definitely want to replace your extinguisher. If there is no record of maintenance such as a tag or sticker, it is better to be safe than sorry: either get your fire extinguisher inspected or get a new one. Fire extinguishers should be inspected annually to ensure they are in proper working order.
Fire protection is paramount in keeping your home and business safe. Having a working fire extinguisher in an accessible place on each floor of the building is the the best way to quickly put out sudden fires before they spread. To learn about other ways to protect your home or business against fire, click here.