Know How to Buy The Right Fire Extinguisher

Know How to Buy The Right Fire Extinguisher

Taryn Williford
Mar 10, 2010

Where there's tech, there's fire. Well, hopefully not. But when you're cooking with gas (literally) and you've got electronics in every room, sometimes sut happens. You've got to be ready by knowing what kind of fire extinguisher is best for the kitchen, theater room or garage. What's that? You didn't know there were types of extinguishers? Well, read on.

Any fire extinguisher you set out to buy will be labeled with letters that tell you what kind of fires it's best designed to put out.

An "A" is great for putting out fires from household combustibles like wood, paper, and cloth. An extinguisher labeled with a "B" is designed for fires started by flammable liquids, such as gasoline or cooking oil. And anything with a "C" is for sparks from live electricity.

Many of the ones sold at home stores are classified A:B:C and fight all three types of fires. In that case, they'll give a ratingl—for example, 3-A:40-B:C—communicating that extinguisher's effectiveness in battling those types of fires.

A higher number means a better extinguisher, and probably a higher price. (The C designation carries no number; it just means the extinguisher's chemicals won't conduct electricity.)

As far as size goes, This Old House has a helpful guide to which size extinguisher is best for each room in the house:

10-pound Best for: Garage or home workshop, where a fire might grow in size before being noticed. Look for: Rechargeable model with hose for ease of use.

Best for: Quick grab in the kitchen or laundry room.
Look for: Rechargeable model with hose for ease of use.

Best for: Car.
Look for: Disposable model with mounting hardware to keep it from rolling around in the trunk.

Best for: Mounting on range hood over stove. (Do not use over deep fryers; released chemical can splash grease and spread flames.)
Look for: Magnetic pressurized cans designed to pop open from the heat of flames, spraying sodium bicarbonate (baking soda).

But no matter what kind you get, remember that your fire extinguisher needs maintenance like any other device in your home. Inspect it once a month. We think this E-How guide is helpful if (like us) you don't know how.

Via Lifehacker

(Top Image: Fire Design Fire Extinguishers, ABC Label Image: UBC Chemistry.)


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