Why You Need A Fire Extinguisher In Your Home
For millions of years fire has amazed man. It cooks our food, heats our homes and water and is a must for melting marshmallows around the campfire. Friendly as it may be, fire can be one of mans biggest enemies when left to rage out of control.
According to statistics gathered by the National Safety Council, more than two million fires are reported each year in the United States. Consequently, nearly 4,000 Americans are killed in those fires and up to 20,000 are injured annually.
While the high incidences of personal injuries are most tragic, the figure for property damage is staggering. The NFPA reports that 414,000 homes are damaged or destroyed each year by fire. Property loses from home fires exceed four billion dollars.
There are many things that you can do to ensure that you, your family and your home don’t become one of these sad statistics.
First, if you don’t have smoke detectors, install them. A smoke detector should be installed in each bedroom and on every level of the home. If you do have smoke detectors, make sure that they are in good working order and that your fire alarm systems are 100% active. Batteries in battery-operated models should be changed at least twice annually. We suggest that you change batteries when you change your clocks for daylight savings time.
Keeping your smoke detectors clean will also prevent false alarms and help keep them in good working order. Use a vacuum cleaner with an upholstery attachment to periodically remove dust build-up.
Homes consisting of more than one story should have an emergency exit device such as an escape ladder. There are many affordable models to choose from. Some collapsible models can be stored neatly under a bed or in a closet. In either case, they should be easily accessible and every member of the family should be familiar with their location and how to use them.
Storing flammables and other combustibles in the proper containers away from potential ignition sources can prevent many house fires. In addition, an area 30 feet from the edge of the home, all the way around the home, should be clear of tall grass, wood and other potentially combustible materials.
One of our sons is on his way to becoming an Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America. The scout motto is “be prepared.” Thus, no matter how hard you may work to prevent a fire, always be prepared for the unexpected. Fire can strike at any time, in any room of the house – kitchen, bathroom, bedroom or garage.
One of your best defenses against a fire is a fire extinguisher. However, keep in mind that not all fire extinguishers are the same. Essentially, there are three types of fire extinguishers for three classes of fire – A, B and C.
An “A” fire consists or wood, paper or fabric; type “B” fires involve flammable liquids, gas and grease; type “C” fires are electrical. Although there are individual A, B and C fire extinguishers, many extinguishers are formulated to put out more than one type of fire while, still others will put out all three.
A prominently placed label on the body of the extinguisher will clearly identify its type. Moreover, a number preceding the rating will classify the size of the fire the extinguisher is capable of putting out. Bear in mind, bigger isn’t always better when it comes to fire extinguishers. You want a model that is light enough to easily lift, hold and aim.
Many extinguishers offer area-of-use information on the packaging. Some manufacturers color-code packages by area of the home in which the extinguishers are intended for use. The product line includes fire extinguishers for the kitchen, garage or workshop, general household use, recreational vehicles, automotive use, and heavy-duty or commercial applications.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends that fire extinguishers be placed around the home so that one is never more than 40 feet away. For added safety, extinguishers should be installed near exits on every floor of the home and in every room that has a high potential for fire, such as the kitchen or garage.
Only buy a fire extinguisher that carries the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) label. This assures that the product has passed rigorous testing and will operate properly in an emergency.
A common mistake that most people make is to install a fire extinguisher without first reading the directions and becoming familiar with how to operate it. Always read the directions for use and understand them, before installing them.
Most fire extinguishers operate in the following manner. First, pull the ring-pin on the top of the extinguisher. Stand the recommended distance form the fire and aim low toward the fire’s base and along the front edge and sides. Push the button or squeeze the trigger and sweep the extinguisher from side to side. If the fire does not die quickly, leave the house immediately and call 911.
Like all household equipment, fire extinguishers should be properly maintained to ensure quality performance. Check the pressure gauge on the extinguisher at least once each month.