A fire extinguisher is a special pressurized device that releases chemicals or water to put out small fires. This equipment is important in homes, schools, businesses and workplaces. It also gives you an escape route if necessary and can help prevent fires from spreading.
There are five different types of fire extinguishers, and each one can tackle a specific type of fire. The best one for you is determined by the type of fire that might start in your home, business or workshop.
Class A (ordinary combustibles)
Fires in ordinary combustibles like paper, wood or cloth can be fought by extinguishers that discharge water, foam and dry chemical agents. They’re especially helpful in places where flammable liquids are common, such as in kitchens and bathrooms.
Class B (flammable gas, liquids and some plastics)
Fires involving flammable gas, liquids or plastics can be fought by extinguishers with dry chemicals or carbon dioxide. They’re especially helpful in places where these substances are common, such as in bathrooms or laundry rooms.
Class C (electrical appliances, tools and other plugged-in gear)
Fires triggered by electric devices can be fought with extinguishers that discharge carbon dioxide or halon. These are useful in offices and other commercial settings, since they don’t damage the electrical systems.
Tip 1: Know your extinguisher
When buying a fire extinguisher, choose one that is lightweight but still has a large capacity for putting out small fires. Then, keep it in a safe place, away from small children and out of their reach.
Tip 2: Store it close to an exit
It’s best if the fire extinguisher is on a table or shelf near an exit so that you can reach it quickly in an emergency, but this doesn’t mean you have to place it right in front of your kitchen stove or in a closet behind curtains and drapes. Having it within reach of an exit makes it easier for everyone to find, and will make it harder for it to be pushed back or hidden by clutter.
Tip 3: Maintain it
You should always check the condition of your fire extinguisher, and make sure it is properly charged and pressurized. This should be done every year, at the same time you replace the batteries in your smoke detectors.
A regular check can help you catch any small problems early, such as a missing pin or cracks in the nozzle, before they can become serious emergencies. It can also help you remember to use it regularly so that you have a full supply ready for any fire that might break out in your house or workplace.
Tip 4: Know how to use it
There are several methods for using a fire extinguisher, but they all work in the same way: Approach the fire at a distance of 1.8 to 2.4 metres and aim the nozzle or outlet at the base of the fire. Squeeze the handle slowly to release the extinguishing agent, and sweep it from side to side at the base of the fire until it appears out. If the fire re-ignites, repeat the process.