When it comes to managing your fire risk, one of the best tools is the most obvious one: the fire extinguisher. At best, it can put out a fire completely, preventing a dangerous and costly event altogether. But even if it only starts the job while firefighters finish it, it can save time when it is most critical.
But what isn’t always as obvious is how many to have and which kind to get. Here’s a short summary of best practices with regards to stocking your home with fire extinguishers.
- Have one on every floor. The last thing you want to do in a fire emergency is to be running up and down stairs. The closer you are to that fire extinguisher, the more you’ll thank yourself later. Place them near exits and familiarize family members with their locations and how to use them.
- Get the right kind. Household fire extinguishers are classified as A, B, C, or a combination of these, clearly marked on the label. That’s to indicate what types of fires you can use them on -- ordinary combustibles, flammable liquids, or electrical. Most standard extinguishers are classified A:B:C and are able to fight any of these three types of fires.
- Get the right size. What size you get depends on where it’s going and who’s going to be using it. You might think that bigger is better, and that’s true in as much as the larger the extinguisher, the more capacity it has to douse a flame. But be careful that you get one that’s easy for any member of the household to operate. Standard sizes are:
- 10-pound. Good for the garage or workshop, where fires might be more likely to grow quickly.
- 5-pound. Good for the kitchen or laundry room, where it’s easy to grab and mobile.
- 2-pound. Good for the car, where it doesn’t take up much space.
- Have a fire plan. No amount of fire extinguishers are a substitute for a good fire plan. Make sure everyone in the house knows how to get out fast, where they will meet outside, and how to call 9-1-1. Even if you’ve used the extinguisher effectively and you think the fire is out, it’s always best to have the professionals double check and make sure.