Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Choosing the Best Fire Extinguisher for your Home

A guide to protecting your family and property

A fire extinguisher is an essential tool for your home but it can be difficult to know which one will be the most effective.

Types of Fire

Common household fires fall under Class A, B, or C fires. Class A Fires consist of ordinary combustibles such as wood, paper, trash or fabric. Class B Fires consist of flammable liquid or gas such as gas or natural gas. Water in any form should never be used for this type of fire as it can cause the flames to spread. Type C Fires are electrical. They are caused by short circuits or an overload on electric cables. Water should not be used on this type of fire either.

What Should I Use?

The best option is a multipurpose or an ABC fire dry powder fire extinguisher to cover all of your bases. The important thing to look for is the UL rating when choosing an extinguisher for your home.  The UL rating can be found on the side of the fire extinguisher or in the specifications online. For example, Amerex’s B402 5lb ABC fire extinguisher has a rating of 3A:40B:C versus a fire extinguisher for your local big box home improvement store has a rating of 2A:10B:C.

OSHA explains it simply – the UL rating is broken down into Class A and Class B:C ratings. These numerical ratings allow you to compare the relative extinguishing effectiveness of various fire extinguishers. For example, an extinguisher that is rated 4A:20B:C indicates the following: 

  • The A rating is a water equivalency rating. Each A is equivalent to 1 1/4 gallons of water. 4A = 5 gallons of water. 
  • The B:C rating is equivalent to the amount of square footage that the extinguisher can cover, handled by a professional. 20 B:C = 20 square feet of coverage. 
  • C indicates it is suitable for use on electrically energized equipment.

Size Does Matter

Fire extinguisher weight descriptions refer to the amount/weight of extinguishing agent inside the cylinder and do not include the weight of the cylinder. Usually bigger is better, but if it’s too heavy for someone in your house like an elderly person or a child to use, you may want to take the following into consideration:

A 2.5 lb fire extinguisher’s actual weight is 6 lbs. Best for: Vehicle or small kitchen 
We recommend: Rechargeable model with mounting hardware to keep it from bouncing around your car.
A 5 lb fire extinguisher’s actual weight is 10 lbs. Best for: Kitchen, Laundry Room and/or each floor of your home as recommended by the NFPA.
We recommend: Rechargeable model with hose.

A 10 lb fire extinguisher’s actual weight is 18 lbs. 
Best for: Garage or home workshop.

How to Use a Fire Extinguisher

Experts advise to learn how to use your fire extinguisher before an emergency occurs. Use the acronym PASS to help you remember how to use your extinguisher and the order of steps you need to take to extinguisher the fire. 

P – Pull the extinguisher’s safety pin. 

A – Aim the chemical at the source of the flames not the flames themselves. Stand back at least 6 feet from the fire (or as directed on the extinguisher’s label). 

S – Squeeze the trigger. Hold the extinguisher upright. 

S – Sweep the flame source until the extinguisher is empty. A rechargeable extinguisher can be refilled after use.

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