Prepare for the Possibility of a House Fire

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Having the appropriate fire extinguisher in the right place at the opportune time can mean not only a difference between life and death, but also the difference between mere damage done to your home and a total loss. Having well-placed fire extinguishers throughout your home should be a given, but if it is not, it is time to make a change for your well-being and that of your family. Knowing what type of extinguisher to use on a particular fire is also essential to quickly distinguishing dangerous flames.

Handheld fire extinguishers for the home come in three varieties--A, B, and C. Each letter corresponds with the type of fire each extinguisher is intended to put out. These letters are significant because different types of fires require different types of tried and tested treatments to extinguish. Class A, for example, is intended for use on ordinary combustibles such as wood, paper products, and many types of plastic. Class B extinguishers are meant to be used on flammable or combustible liquids such as gasoline, diesel, oil, and grease. Class C extinguishers are intended to douse electrical equipment, wiring, appliances, and outlets; this classification of extinguisher does not conduct electricity, hence being safe to use on electrical fires. Extinguishers also exist in Class D and K but those are generally reserved for chemical laboratories and commercial kitchens.

There are multi-purpose fire extinguishers available that are versatile and can be used to put out other types of fires in a pinch. However, this does not mean you should run out and fill your home only with multi-purpose extinguishers. There are several reasons for this, such as the presence of corrosive or sticky residue left behind after use that can damage items it is used on. It is bad enough that you could lose some of your possessions to fire, but worse to lose them to the wrong type of extinguisher, or through use a multi-purpose extinguisher resulting in even more damage.

Something else to consider when shopping for fire extinguishers are the numeric classifications on them. For example, you may purchase an extinguisher rated 4A or 2B (C does not carry a numeric classification). The higher the number, the more effective the extinguisher will be on that classification of fire. Because of this, when using a multi-purpose extinguisher instead of one rated specifically for the type of fire with which you are faced, you lose firefighting capabilities. It may take more time or effort to extinguish a fire if you use a universal extinguisher rather than a specialized one. Also consider the size of the extinguishers you purchase-while bigger seems better, bigger can be hard to operate. The number of pounds listed on the canister is what the canister contains, not the combined weight of canister and contents, so a 10lb fire extinguisher will not weigh only 10lbs.

Now that you have an idea how each extinguisher will work, do a walk through of your home and think of the places you need fire extinguishers. It is recommended by The National Fire Protection Association that you have at least one extinguisher per floor, but when it comes to the lives of your family, don't risk being a minimalist, especially because a one story home would then only have one extinguisher. If you only have one extinguisher, odds are it will not be where you need it and you could wind up in danger of a total loss due to being unable to access that extinguisher quickly enough. Keeping an extinguisher in the kitchen, garage, and near entrances/exits to your home is a good place to start.

When it comes time to use your extinguisher, remember the word PASS: Pull the pin, Aim for the source of the flames, Squeeze the trigger, and Sweep the source of the flames until your extinguisher is empty. Always be sure to call for assistance from the fire department in the event you have a fire in your home. Even if it appears that you have extinguished it, there could be smoldering that you cannot see, and those smoldering embers could re-ignite. Hopefully you will never encounter a house fire and have to deal with resulting loss and house repair. Fires happen, especially this time of year when questionable heat sources are being used, and the way to survive them with your life and possessions mostly intact is by being prepared. It is better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it, so get yourself a fire extinguisher today.

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