A fire extinguisher is something most people don’t think about until they need one. While you may be able to use a home fire extinguisher to help you put out a small fire, you may find that it’s of little value if it hasn’t been kept in operating condition. Below are some tips to help make sure your fire extinguisher is in proper working order.
Types of Fire Extinguishers
Before you buy or use a fire extinguisher, you should know what types of fires it is made to handle. The U.S. Fire Administration says fire extinguishers are made to combat five types of blazes:
Class A: Ordinary combustibles (i.e. cloth, wood and paper)
Class B: Flammable liquids
Class C: Appliances, electrical
Class D: Metals
Class K: Cooking oils
Some fire extinguishers may be made for more than one type of fire, and they will be labeled as such: “ABC” or “BC,” for example.
The NFPA also suggests including the following steps in your inspection:
1. Ensure accessibility. Make sure the extinguisher is in its proper spot, visible and easy to access.
2. Inspect the seals.Look over the tamper and safety seals to make sure they are intact.
3. Check the pressure. If your fire extinguisher has a pressure gauge, be sure that the gauge’s needle indicates proper pressure. If the fire extinguisher has a test indicator, press it to make sure the pressure reading is within the correct range.
4. Look for damage. Visible signs of damage, such as corrosion, leakage or a clogged nozzle, may mean it’s time to replace the extinguisher.
5. Document your inspection.Keep track of your extinguisher’s monthly checks and maintenance. Some extinguisher come with an inspection tag for this purpose.
Fire extinguishers are often an overlooked part of a home safety plan. Do your checks, know how to use them, contact your local fire department if you need help or more resources and be sure your extinguishers are ready for use — just in case.