Fire Safety: Fire Extinguishers and Their Types

A man checking the pressure of a fire extinguisher, with another fire extinguisher behind the focal one.Your home is a safe haven, but it can only remain so if you take the appropriate precautions. Essential safety items keep your home protected, and of these items, one of the most important is fire extinguishers. Having the right fire extinguisher in your home can save you and your family’s lives and prevent serious damage to your house. However, it’s important you become familiar with everything there is to know about your fire extinguisher. Let’s discuss fire extinguishers and their types, so you’re fully prepared for a disaster.

Types of Fire Extinguishers and Their Uses

If you’ve ever inspected a fire extinguisher, you’ve likely noticed the colored shape encasing a letter on the label. This indicates the fire extinguisher class, which informs users of the types of fires it is approved for. These classes include:

  • Class A: Used for simple combustibles like wood, cloth paper, and some plastics.
  • Class B: Used to smother flammable liquids like gas, oil, and grease.
  • Class C: Used to put out electrical or energized fires from live wires or panels.
  • Class A-B-C: A versatile extinguisher that can fight the same fires as Classes A, B, and C.
  • Element: A small, portable extinguisher that can put out fires on the molecular level.
  • Class D and K: These are commercial-grade extinguishers. Class D can extinguish flammable metals, and Class K is used for oil fires in cooking appliances.

Most homes should at least have a Class A-B-C extinguisher, as it can help fight fires from most origins in a house.

How to Use a Fire Extinguisher

Typical home fires originate from grease or oil in the kitchen, malfunctioning electrical systems, or the clothes dryer. Since house fires can stem from different chemical reactions or fuels, you should purchase a multipurpose fire extinguisher, such as the aforementioned Class A-B-C. You should then store your extinguishers in easily accessible spots near exits and rooms with the highest risk of fire, like the kitchen or basement. If you ever find yourself in need of an extinguisher, follow these steps:

  • Pull the Pin: This is a safety pin that prevents accidental foam discharge.
  • Aim Low: Aim the nozzle of the extinguisher at the base of the fire.
  • Squeeze the Level: This will disperse the fire-fighting foam.
  • Sweep the Nozzle: Ensure you smother the entire base of the fire with foam.

The National Fire Protection Association refers to these steps by the rememberable acronym PASS.

Maintaining Your Fire Extinguisher

Buying a fire extinguisher is the first step in protecting your home, but the precautions shouldn’t end there. You should periodically check your extinguisher to ensure they haven’t passed their expiration date. They typically have a pressure gauge that will indicate if the extinguisher is no longer useable, and at that point, you need to replace it. You should also regularly dust the extinguisher and apply oil to the lever to avoid any setbacks when you need it most.

Knowing about fire extinguishers and their types ensures you’re prepared for a disaster and can create a safe escape if needed. You should also take the time to test your fire alarms and outline a fire escape plan with your family for safe measure. In the event of a fire, after ensuring everyone’s safety, you should then report any damage to your homeowners or renters insurance agent to expedite the claims process. At TJ Woods Insurance, our agents can help match you with the right homeowners or renters insurance for your needs. If you’re looking to maximize coverage for fire damage, contact us today.