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Home Fire Extinguisher Knowhow

BY BNC Insurance, An Acrisure Agency Partner

(Photo by Getty Images)


You probably know that a fire extinguisher can help you put out a fire before it gets out of control. But do you know what kind of fire extinguisher you need? Or what kind of maintenance is required? During an emergency, you won’t have time to figure these things out, so take a moment to brush up on fire extinguisher basics now.

The Different Types of Fire Extinguishers

According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), there are five different types of fire extinguishers, and they are designed to put out different types of fires.

  • A: Often found in homes and businesses, this type of fire extinguisher can put out fires involving cloth, wood, paper and other ordinary materials.

  • B: Often found in homes and businesses, this type of fire extinguisher can put out fires involving grease, gasoline, oil, oil-based paints and other combustible or flammable materials.

  • C: Often found in homes and businesses, this type of fire extinguisher can put out fires involving electrical equipment.

  • D: Often found in factories, this type of fire extinguisher can put out fires involving flammable metals.

  • K: Often found in commercial kitchens, this type of fire extinguisher can put out fires involving oils and fats in cooking appliances.

Still not sure what type you need? Don’t worry. You can get a multi-purpose fire extinguisher. For example, if you’re looking for a fire extinguisher for your home, consider purchasing one labeled “A-B-C.”

Where to Keep Your Fire Extinguishers

Don’t be stingy with fire extinguishers. This is an investment that could save your home, your belongings and even your life.

You need a fire extinguisher in your kitchen, and you should have at least one of every floor of your house. It’s also smart to have one in your garage and a small one in your car.

How to Maintain Your Fire Extinguishers

Fire extinguishers don’t have an unlimited lifespan. After about five to 15 years, your fire extinguishers will need to be replaced. If you can’t remember the last time you replaced yours, it might be time. Check the instructions on the fire extinguisher for more information.

You should also inspect your fire extinguishers regularly to make sure they haven’t been damaged. When inspecting your fire extinguishers, the USFA recommends that you check the following:

  • Can the fire extinguisher be accessed quickly? Make sure nothing is blocking it.

  • Is the pressure level correct? Check the gauge, if there is one.

  • Are the parts working? Check the can, hose and nozzle for damage.

  • Is it clean? Removed dust, oil or grease from the outside.

  • Anything else? Check the instructions to see if you need to do anything else, like shaking the extinguisher or testing the pressure.

How to Use Your Fire Extinguishers

Don’t wait until there’s a fire. Read over the instructions on your fire extinguishers now.

The NFPA says you can remember the word “PASS” to learn how to use a fire extinguisher:

  • Pull the pin. Make sure the nozzle is pointing away from you.

  • Aim for the base of the fire.

  • Squeeze the lever. Do so slowly and evenly.

  • Sweep the nozzle from side to side.

But if there is a fire, don’t attempt to put it out yourself if you’re not sure you can do so safely. According to the NFPA, more than half of civilians who are injured in home fires involving cooking equipment are hurt while trying to put out the fire themselves. Be safe! Get out and call 911 for help.

Last but not least, make sure your homeowners insurance policy is updated every year. If you haven’t reviewed your coverage lately, contact us.



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